Nation and identity
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Nation and Identity. Introduction. A ncient Greeks and the Others. Hellenic Culture versus the Barbarians “Whoever is not a Greek is a Barbarian” Barbarians =the term is not specific but refers to everything not Greek Barbarophonoi =these of incomprehensible speech

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Nation and Identity

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Nation and identity

Nation and Identity


A ncient greeks and the others

Ancient Greeks and the Others

  • Hellenic Culture versus the Barbarians

  • “Whoever is not a Greek is a Barbarian”

  • Barbarians=the term is not specific but refers to everything not Greek

  • Barbarophonoi=these of incomprehensible speech

  • ‘bah-bah’ the language of the Barbarians

  • The use of the term does not imply that the Greeks despised everything alien

  • On the contrary, they respected the antiquity of the civilizations of Egypt, Persia, Phoenicia and Mesopotamia

The barbarian stereotype

The Barbarian stereotype

  • The Barbarians cannot speak proper Greek

  • They cannot be trusted, they are dishonest and lascivious

  • They are cowards and effeminate

  • They cannot govern themselves properly

Greekness according to herodotus

Greekness according to Herodotus

  • “There is our common Greekness: we are all one in blood and one in language, those shrines of the godsbelong to us all in common, and the sacrifices in common, and there are our habits, bred of a common upbringing.”

  • Race

  • Language

  • Religion

  • Customs

Herodotus and cultural relativism

Herodotus and Cultural Relativism

  • Cultural Relativism =all cultural practices must be evaluated within the context of the practicing culture.

  • Although Herodotus does not use the term specifically in his History, yet he was the first who introduced the idea that there are no inferior cultures only different ones.

Greek identity according to isocrates

Greek Identity according to Isocrates

  • “Athens has become the teacher of the cities and has made the name of Greek no longer a mark of race but of intellect, so that it is those who have our upbringing rather than our common nature who are called Hellenes.”

Greek identity according to isocrates1

Greek Identity according to Isocrates

  • Isocrates tries to modify or define the Greek identity based on kinship and culture.

  • Culture=language, religion, customs, material culture etc.

  • Greek is whoever shares the Greek culture

  • One major influence on the different perspective of Greekness by Isocrates is the geographical expansion of Greece under the Alexander the Great

The concept of nation

The Concept of Nation

  • According to the current political thinking, there are two main models of nation:

  • (a) the territorial and civic model

  • (b) the ethnic-genealogical model.

The concept of nation1

The Concept of Nation

  • Ernest Renan (1823–1892) French philosopher and writer.

  • Qu'est-cequ'une nation? ("What is a Nation?"

  •  before Renan the definition of the nation was based on “objective” criteria such as race, ethnic group, common characteristics (language etc.)

The concept of nation2

The Concept of Nation

  • Renan defined Nation by the desire of a people to live together, which he summed up in the well known phrase, "avoir fait de grandeschoses ensemble, vouloir en faire encore" (having done great things together and wishing to do more)

  • The nation, according to Renan, is a spiritual principle. Ranan’s perspective is humanistic, since a man does not belong to his language or to his race but rather is part of humanity.

The concept of nation3

The Concept of Nation

  • Nation is "a group of people united by a mistaken view about the past and a hatred of their neighbors."

  • If "the essential element of a nation is that all its individuals must have many things in common," they "must also have forgotten many things. Every French citizen must have forgotten the night of St. Bartholomew and the massacres in the thirteenth century in the South."

The concept of nation4

The Concept of Nation

  • Anthony Smith English theorist of nationalismEthnic Past,

  • Nation a community based on the common predecessors, the common descent of the different ethnic groups and their native culture.

  • Common Identity and Shared History

The concept of nation5

The Concept of Nation

  • Anthony Smith seems to agree with Renar that many nationalisms are based on historically flawed interpretations of past events while at the same time tend to overly idealize small, inaccurate parts of their history.

The concept of nation6

The Concept of Nation

  • The theory of Renan belongs to the territorial and civic model.

  • According to this model historic territory, legal-political community, legal-political equality, and common civic culture and ideology are necessary for the formation of a nation.

  • The theory of Anthony Smith belongs to the ethnic-genealogical model.

  • According to this model common identity and shared history are necessary for the formation of a nation.

Food for though

Food for though

  • On what model has the American nation been based?

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