Ethnicity and Nationalism: Theory and Comparison

Front Cover
SAGE Publications, Dec 2, 1991 - Social Science - 360 pages
0 Reviews
"[This book] It is provocative and bold. Brass bases his theories on his rather extensive study of the historical and political processes in multi-ethnic societies, especially India. There is much truth in his identification of the problem in the state of Punjab and elsewhere in India, in relentless centralization and, often, some questionable interventionist policies of the central government." --International Migration Review "Ethnicity and Nationalism is most timely and relevant. . . . This book offers many positives. It is provocative and bold. Paul Brass bases his theories on his rather extensive study of the historical and political processes in multiethnic societies, especially in India. There is much truth in his identification of the problem in the state of Punjab and elsewhere in India." --International Migration Review "The present volume is a very important contribution toward the study of ethnicity and nationalism. The book would be of interest to a wide range of scholars, particularly those with a South Asian focus." --Asian and Pacific Migration Journal "This volume is a very important contribution toward the study of ethnicity and nationalism. The book would be of interest to a wide range of scholars, particularly those with a South Asian focus." --Asia and Pacific Mirgration Journal Ethnicity and nationalism, interethnic conflicts, and secessionist movements have been major forces shaping the modern world and the structure and stability of contemporary states. In the closing decades of the twentieth century, such forces and movements have emerged with new intensity. Drawing his examples in this major study from a wide variety of multiethnic situations around the world, with special emphasis on South Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union, Paul Brass presents a distinctive theory concerning the origins of ethnic identity and modern nationalism. The author bases his theory on two focal arguments: one, that ethnicity and nationalism are not "givens," but are social and political constructions. The second is that ethnicity and nationalism are modern phenomena inseparably connected with the activities of the modern centralizing state. Examples and case studies from India comprise the heart of this volume. Three chapters focus specifically on two minority groups in India: north India Muslims and the Sikhs of Punjab. A second and substantial source of illustrations, which substantiate the theoretical arguments, is Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. The author also presents a direct comparison of language-based ethnic problems in India and the Soviet Union. An original perspective on the major themes and arguments concerning ethnicity and nationalism, this book is essential reading for scholars and academics in the fields of ethnic studies, comparative politics, development studies, and anthropology. "Brass's work is a significant contribution to the study of ethnicity and nationalism. His work draws our attention to the complexity of the politics of identity. Students of Indian politics will find the book extremely useful and the people who in recent years are trying to invent a primordial basis for the Indian nation will find it disconcerting." --The Indian Economic and Social History Review "This timely volume....will be of considerable interest to students of South Asian politics for its clarity and commitment." --International Journal of Punjab Studies "When a major writer shifts the focus on his inquiry, it becomes the cause of a certain excitement within the discipline as a whole. Such is the case with Ethnicity and Nationalism where Paul Brass, long a familiar name for students of Indian politics, questions the applicability of the consociational model as an effective method of achieving democratic political order in multi-ethnic societies." --Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics "This is a useful book for it brings together Paul Brass' writings on the subject of ethnicity and politics between 1978 and 1990." --Contributions to Indian Sociology "By virtue of the theoretical and empirical assertions it makes and the political controversy it is bound to give rise to, Ethnicity and Nationalism is an important addition to Indian and comparative politics. The book can be read with profit." --Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics "This is a valuable addition to the literature on ethnicity and nationalism. But more than just an addition, it illumines the multi-layered social grid in multi-ethnic societies consisting of majorities and minorities, conflicts of interests, and the key role played by both the State and various elites in the formation of ethnicity and nationalism." --Media Development

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Other editions - View all

About the author (1991)

Paul R Brass is Professor (Emeritus) of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. He has published numerous books and articles on comparative and South Asian politics, ethnic politics, and collective violence. His work has been based on extensive field research in India during numerous visits since 1961. 

He has been a University of Washington faculty member and Professor, Department of Political Science, and The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies since 1965. He received his BA in 1958, Government, Harvard College; his MA in 1959, Political Science, University of Chicago; and his PhD in 1964, Political Science, University of Chicago. 

His teaching specializations include: comparative politics (South Asia), ethnicity and nationalism, as well as collective violence. 

Prof. Brass has received Fellowships at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC, 1994–95; Faculty Research Fellowships, American Institute of Indian Studies: 1993, 1982– 83, 1973, 1966–76; John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, 1972–73; Grants for Research on South Asia, American Council of Learned Societies and Social Science Research Council, 1966–67, 1973–74, 1977–78, 1982–83, amongst others. 

In 2008, Brass received the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Emeritus Fellowship. 

In 2012, Professor Brass was awarded a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Research Fellowship grant for the academic year 2012–13, which allowed him to carry out further research in India during his stay of nine months. During that period he was affiliated with the Centre for the Study of Developing societies, Delhi.

Bibliographic information