Ethnosymbolism emerges from the theoretical critique of modernism. Broadly speaking, the term refers to an approach which emphasizes the role of myths, symbols, memories, values and traditions in the formation, persistence and change of ethnicity and nationalism (Smith 2001d: 84). According to Anthony D. Smith, the ‘founding father’ of this approach, ethnosymbolism stresses the need for an analysis of collective cultural identities over la longue durée, that is a time span of many centuries; the importance of continuity, recurrence and appropriation as different modes of connecting the national past, present and future; the significance of pre-existing ethnic communities, or ethnies, in the formation of modern nations; the role of memories of golden ages, myths of origin and ethnic election, cults of heroes and ancestors, and the attachment to a homeland in the formation and persistence of national identities; the different kinds of ethnic groups that form the basis of various kinds of nations; and the special contribution of the modern ideology of nationalism to the dissemination of the ideal of the nation (2002a: 14–15; see also Smith 1999: Chapter 1, 2005: 98). Such an approach, Smith argues, differs from other explanations in underlining the importance of subjective elements in our understanding of ethnic groups and nations, in the weight it gives to popular cultures and practices and in how these set limits to elite understandings and strategies (2001d: 84).
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number