The Nation as a Problem: Historians and the "National Question"

How is it that the nation became an object of scholarly research? As this article intends to show, not until what we call the "genealogical view" (which assumes the "natural" and "objective" character of the nation) eroded away could the nation be subjected to critical scrutiny by historians. The starting point and the premise for studies in the field was the revelation of the blind spot in the genealogical view, that is, the discovery of the "modern" and "constructed" character of nations. Historians' views would thus be intimately tied to the "antigenealogical" perspectives of them. However, this antigenealogical view would eventually reveal its own blind spots. This paper traces the different stages of reflection on the nation, and how the antigenealogical approach would finally be rendered problematic, exposing, in turn, its own internal fissures.


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