Last modified on 1 November 2014, at 14:53

Anthony D. Smith

Anthony D. Smith (born 1939) is a British Ethnographer, and Professor Emeritus of Nationalism and Ethnicity at the London School of Economics, and is considered one of the founders of the interdisciplinary field of nationalism studies.

QuotesEdit

The Ethnic Origins of Nations (1987)Edit

Anthony D. Smith (1987). The Ethnic Origins of Nations. Oxford: B. Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-16169-4. 

  • Though Latin long held sway in Court and bureaucratic circles, the cultural cement of the empire’s core populations was Greek and its education was in the Greek classics and tongue. Imperial tradition, Christian Orthodoxy and Greek culture became even more the bases of Byzantium and her Hellenic community, after she had lost most of her western and Asiatic possessions in the seventh century — to Visigoths and then Arabs m Spain and North Africa, to the Lombards in much of Italy, to the Slavs in the Balkans and to Muslim armies in Egypt and the Near East. Political circumstances, and the resilience of Greek culture and Greek education, made her predominantly Greek in speech and character. After the sack of Constantinople in 1204 and the establishment of a Latin empire under Venetian auspices, the rivalry of the Greek empires based on Nicaea, Epirus and Trebizond to realize the patriotic Hellenic dream of recapturing the former capital further stimulated Greek ethnic sentiment against Latin usurpation. W1cn in the face of Turkith threats, the fifteenth-century Byzantine emperor, Michael Palaeologus, tried to place the Orthodox Church under the Papacy and hence Western protection; an inflamed Greek sentiment vigorously opposed his policy. The city’s populace in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, their Hellenic sentiments fanned by monks, priests and the Orthodox party against the Latin policies of the government, actually preferred the Turkish turban to the Latin mitre and attacked the urban wealthy classes. But the Turkish conquest and the demise of Byzantium did not spell the end of the Orthodox Greek community and its ethnic sentiment. tinder its Church and Patriarch, and organized as a recognized milliet of the Ottoman empire, the Greek community flourished in exile, the upper classes of its Diaspora assuming privileged economic and bureaucratic positions in the empire. So Byzantine bureaucratic incorporation had paradoxical effects: as in Egypt, it helped to sunder the mass of the Greek community from the state and its Court and bureaucratic imperial myths and culture in favour of a more demotic Greek Orthodoxy; but, unlike Egypt, the demise of the state served to strengthen that Orthodoxy and reattach to it the old dynastic Messianic symbolism of a restored Byzantine empire in opposition to Turkish oppression.
  • First, Greece: for modem Greeks, as I intimated, the future could mirror ‘the past’ past’ in more than one way, since there was a clear split in that past. One school argued for the Byzantine roots and glory of Greece. They pointed to the massive influx of Slavic immigrants in the sixth and succeeding centuries throughout the Balkans and Greece, and claimed that this had weakened the links with a decayed Hellenic (or Hellenistic— Roman) culture. What was Byzantine was essentially Orthodox Christianity only the Greek language and liturgy retained any connection with a pre-Christian past. In the Orthodox millet of the Ottoman empire, Christianity had kept a Byzantine Greek ethnic alive, as in a chrysalis, ready to be transformed under the impact of Western ideas and commercialization in the late eighteenth century.8’ For the Byzantine-Orthodox clergy and their flocks, for the notables in the Mores and Phanariots in Constantinople, this grandiose dream of a restored Byzantine empire under Greek control located the re-nascent Greek people and charted their future in the Aegean and Ionia. It also pointed the way to a restored agrarian society of peasants, notables and clergy, essentially smallholders, but led by educated Orthodox elites under the Patriarch.
    • p. 203.
  • Another school opposed this dream with its summons to military adventure in Anatolia, and took its blueprint from a Western reading of classical antiquity. While conceding the demographic break with the ancient Greek world, the westernized intelligentsia claimed a continuing spiritual affinity between modem Western, secular ideals and those of classical Athens. Locating the modern Greeks through their cultural heritage of classical antiquity along an cast—west axis that stretched from Paris and London to Athens and Constantinople, the ‘Hellenic’ map differed profoundly from the ‘Byzantine’ one; for the Latter had a north—south axis from Moscow to Constantinople and Egypt, which aligned a re-nascent Byzantine Greece with Orthodox Russia as the protector of Eastern Christianity. There was a similar contrast in ethnic moralities. While the Byzantine conception of Greek revival envisaged a renewal of the Orthodox Christian virtues and ecclesiastical controls, the secular Hellenic vision advocated a ‘return’ to the qualities of rational enquiry, self-control and reflective choice which seemed to sum up the ethical message of ancient Greece.
    • p. 203.
  • These differences in moral vision and map-making bred, In turn, conflicting institutional needs and social policies, within the constraints of an under-developed economy and society in terms of Western standards. Though both were ‘backward-looking’, the hierarchical and theocratic Byzantine ideal with its cultural affinity to Orthodox Tsarism, lent itself to a rural and patriarchal society whose political institutions would be subordinated to the religious controls of the clergy and their supporters among the notables; their suspicions of the West would be compensated by the eastward drive inherent in the Megali Idea and its dream of a restored Byzantine empire in Anatolia and the Aegean. Whereas the Hellenic vision,
    • p. 203.

National Identity (1991)Edit

Anthony D. Smith (1991). National Identity. Harmondsworth [Eng.]: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-012565-5. 

  • This shifted the centre of a truly Hellenic civilization to the east, to the Aegean, the Ionian littoral of Asia Minor and to Constantinople. It also meant that modem Greeks could hardly count as being of ancient Greek descent, even if this could never be ruled out.’ There is a sense in which the preceding discussion is both relevant to a sense of Greek identity, now and earlier, and irrelevant. It is relevant in so far as Greeks, now and earlier, felt that their ‘Greekness’ was a product of their descent from the ancient Greeks (or Byzantine Greeks), and that such filiations made them feel themselves to be members of one great ‘super-family’ of Greeks, shared sentiments of continuity and membership being essential to a lively sense of identity. It is irrelevant in that ethnies arc constituted, not by lines of physical descent, but by the sense of continuity, shared memory and collective destiny, i.e. by lines of cultural affinity embodied in distinctive myths, memories, symbols and values retained by a given cultural unit of population. In that sense much has been retained, and revived, from the extant heritage of ancient Greece. For, even at the time of Slavic migrations, in Ionia and especially in Constantinople, there was a growing emphasis on the Greek language, on Greek philosophy and literature, and on classical models of thought and scholarship. Such a ‘Greek revival’ was to surface again in the tenth and fourteenth centuries, as well as subsequently, providing a powerful impetus to the sense of cultural affinity with ancient Greece and its classical heritage.
    • p. 29: About Ethnic Change, Dissolution and Survival
  • It is irrelevant in that ethnies arc constituted, not by lines of physical descent, but by the sense of continuity, shared memory and collective destiny, i.e. by lines of cultural affinity embodied in distinctive myths, memories, symbols and values retained by a given cultural unit of population. In that sense much has been retained, and revived, from the extant heritage of ancient Greece. For, even at the time of Slavic migrations, in Ionia and especially in Constantinople, there was a growing emphasis on the Greek language, on Greek philosophy and literature, and on classical models of thought and scholarship. Such a ‘Greek revival’ was to surface again in the tenth and fourteenth centuries, as well as subsequently, providing a powerful impetus to the sense of cultural affinity with ancient Greece and its classical heritage. This is not to deny for one moment either the enormous cultural changes undergone by the Greeks despite a surviving sense of common ethnicity or the cultural influence of surrounding peoples and civilizations over two thousand years. At the same time in terms of script and language, certain values, a particular environment and its nostalgia, continuous social interactions and a sense of religious and cultural difference, even exclusion, a sense of Greek identity and common sentiments of ethnicity can be said to have persisted
    • p. 30: About Ethnic Change, Dissolution and Survival
  • This is not to deny for one moment either the enormous cultural changes undergone by the Greeks despite a surviving sense of common ethnicity or the cultural influence of surrounding peoples and civilizations over two thousand years. At the same time in terms of script and language, certain values, a particular environment and its nostalgia, continuous social interactions, and a sense of religious and cultural difference, even exclusion, a sense of Greek identity and common sentiments of ethnicity can be said to have persisted beneath the many social and political changes of the last two thousand years
    • p. 31: About Ethnic Change, Dissolution and Survival

Nationalism and Modernism (1998)Edit

Anthony D. Smith (1998). Nationalism and Modernism: A Critical Survey of Recent Theories of Nations and Nationalism. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-06341-8. 

  • But his genetic and physical inference from cases of ethnic durability cannot account for the considerable variability, wide range and frequent absorptions and dissolutions of instances of ethnic affiliation, and the fact that many ethnies have undergone large-scale changes of culture and, in some cases, of demography. This is the case even in such a culturally long-lived example as the Greeks, where undoubted evidence of massive rupture of demographic continuity by the influx of Albanians and Slavs on the Greek mainland from the sixth to eighth centuries AD and of considerable, though not complete, culture change after the conversion to Orthodoxy, call into question the continuity and influence of a common ancient Greek biological and genetic inheritance on modern Greeks.
    • p. 150.
  • Greeks, Armenians, Jews, Persians, Chinese and Japanese could be cited as examples of ethnic continuity, since, despite massive cultural changes over the centuries, certain key identifying components—name, language, customs, religious community and territorial association—were broadly maintained and reproduced for millennia.
    • p. 191.
  • All this points to the importance of social memory; as the example of the relationship between modern and ancient Greeks shows, ethnies are constituted, not by lines of physical descent, but by the sense of continuity, shared memory and collective destiny, i.e. by lines of cultural affinity embodied in myths, memories, symbols and values retained by a given cultural unit of population.
    • p. 192.

Gastronomy or Geology? The Role of Nationalism in the Reconstruction of Nations. (1994)Edit

Anthony D. Smith (1994) "Gastronomy or Geology? The Role of Nationalism in the Reconstruction of Nations." Nations and Nationalism 1, no. 1 : 3-23.

  • Perhaps the central question in our understanding of nationalism is the role of the past in the creation of the present. … For nationalists themselves, the role of the past is clear and unproblematic. The nation was always there, indeed it is part of the natural order, even when it was submerged in the hearts of its members.
    • p. 18: As cited in: Öktem, Kerem. "Creating the Turk’s Homeland: Modernization, Nationalism and Geography in Southeast Turkey in the late 19 th and 20 th Centuries." Socrates Kokkalis Graduate Workshop. The City: Urban Culture, Architecture and Society. 2003.
  • For perennialists, too, the nation is immemorial. National forms may change and particular nations may dissolve, but the identity of a nation is unchanging. Yet the nation is not part of any natural order, so one can choose one's nation, and later generations can build something new on their ancient ethnic foundations. The task of nationalism is to rediscover and appropriate a submerged past in order the better to build on it.
  • For the modernist, in contrast, the past is largely irrelevant. The nation is a modern phenomenon, the product of nationalist ideologies, which themselves are the expression of modern, industrial society. The nationalist is free to use ethnic heritages, but nation-building can proceed without the aid of an ethnic past. Hence, nations are phenomena of a particular stage of history, and embedded in purely modern conditions.

Myths and Memories of the Nation (1999)Edit

Anthony D. Smith (1999). Myths and Memories of the Nation. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. pp. 212-215. ISBN 0-19-829534-0. 

  • Yet even here all these peoples have remained rooted in their sacred homelands for centuries. Though oppressed and colonized by outsiders, they have never been expelled en masse, and so the theme of restoration to the homeland has played little part in the conceptions of these peoples. There are, however, two peoples, apart from the Jews, for whom restoration of the homeland and commonwealth have been central: the Greeks and the Armenians, and together with the Jews, they constitute the archetypal Diaspora peoples, or what John Armstrong has called ‘mobilized diasporas° Unlike diasporas composed of recent mi migrant workers—Indians, Chinese and others in Southeast Asia, East Africa and the Caribbean— mobilized diasporas are of considerable antiquity, are generally polyglot and multi-skilled trading communities and have ancient, portable religious traditions. Greeks, Jews, and Armenians claimed an ancient homeland and kingdom, looked back nostalgically to a golden age or ages of great kings, saints, sages and poets, yearned to return to ancient capitals with sacred sites and buildings, took with them wherever they went their ancient scriptures, sacred scripts and separate liturgies, founded in every city congregations with churches, clergy and religious schools, traded across the Middle East and Europe using the networks of enclaves of their co-religionists to compete with other ethnic trading networks, and used their wealth, education and economic skills to offset their political powerlessness)
    • Chapter: Greeks, Armenians and Jews.
  • But the parallels go further, Greeks, Jews, and Armenians after their subordination to others and emigration or expulsion from their original homelands became Diaspora ethno-religious communities cultivating the particular virtues and aptitudes of their traditions. These included a respect for scholarship and learning, derived from constant study of sacred texts (and in the Greek case some of their ancient secular texts seen through religious filters); and hence a generally high status accorded to religious scholars and clergy within each enclave. Allied to this was a marked aptitude for literary expression—poetic, philosophical, legal, liturgical, linguistic, and historical.
    • Chapter: Greeks, Armenians and Jews.
  • Greek Phanariot merchants and traders dominated the commerce of the Ottoman empire, utilizing their kinship networks and social and religious institutions to maximize not only their business and assets, but also their cultural capital. Diaspora Greeks became especially prominent from the eighteenth century in the development of printing and the press, and experienced a major intellectual revival in cities as far afield as Vienna, Venice, Odessa, Paris, and Amsterdam
    • Chapter: Greeks, Armenians and Jews.
  • In each case, the concept of chosenness played a central role. For Greeks and Armenians, the myth of ethnic election was both direct and transmitted. It was an act of God who had singled out a special community of His faithful to live according to His holy laws and receive His special blessings, the blessings being conditional on the holding of correct beliefs and the performance of sacred obligations. As with the Jews, the overriding purpose was to become a holy people beloved of God, a people of priests worthy of the status and location which God had bestowed on the community. But, unlike the Jews, Armenians and Greeks saw their election as a reward for receiving the true faith rejected by the Jews. They were therefore required to supplant the Jews as the chosen people, and become the heirs of a people who had fallen from grace. In this sense, the chosen status of Greeks and Armenians was a legacy from the Jewish people, and only much later did the Orthodox community of true believers become imbued with Greek culture and a sense of Greek-speaking community, and to the outside world Orthodoxy became synonymous with Greek culture and origins.
    • Chapter: Greeks, Armenians and Jews.

The Nation in History (2000)Edit

Anthony D. Smith (2000). The Nation in History: Historiographical Debates about Ethnicity and Nationalism (The Menahem Stern Jerusalem Lectures). Hanover, NH: Brandeis University Press. ISBN 1-58465-040-0. 

  • Against this view, it is still possible to identify some cultural continuities. Kitromilides himself alludes to some of them, when he mentions “inherited forms of cultural expression, such as those associated with the Orthodox liturgical cycle and the images of emperors, the commemoration of Christian kings, the evocation of the Orthodox kingdom and its earthly seat, Constantinople, which is so powerfully communicated in texts such as the Akathist Hymn, sung every year during Lent and forming such an intimate component of Orthodox worship . . .“ (Kitromilides 1998, 31). There are other lines of Greek continuity. Despite the adoption of a new religion, Christianity, certain traditions, such as a dedication to competitive values, have remained fairly constant, as have the basic forms of the Greek language and the contours of the Greek homeland (though its centre of gravity was subject to change). And John Armstrong has pointed to the “precocious nationalism” that took hold of the Greek population of the Byzantine Empire under the last Palaeologan emperors and that was directed as much against the Catholic Latins as against the Muslim Turks—an expression of medieval Greek national sentiment as well as a harbinger of later Greek nationalism. But again, we may ask: was this Byzantine sentiment a case of purely confessional loyalty or of ethnoreligious nationalism? (See Armstrong 1982, I74—8I cf. Baynes and Moss 1969, 119—27, and Carras 1983.)
    • p. 42-43.

Chosen Peoples (2003)Edit

Anthony D. Smith (2003). Chosen Peoples: Sacred Sources of National Identity. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. pp. 98. ISBN 0-19-210017-3. 

  • However, such myths developed earlier in the Byzantine periphery. In the heart of the Empire, it was really only in its final phase from 1261, under the Palaeologan emperors, after the chastening experience of the Sack of Constantinople by the Latins in 1204, and the subsequent period of ‘penance’ in the Nicene Empire, that we can begin to speak of a definite Greek ethnic component fuelled by strong anti-Latin sentiment, alongside the Universal Church and its mission to outsiders (see Raynes and Moss 1969: 33—6). In fact, a strong Greek ethnic sentiment had developed already at Nicaca. In John Armstrong’s words: At Nicaea after the Crusader conquest of Constantinople, the literati demanded that the emperor in-exile entitle himself king of the Hellenes”. Two centuries later the last emperor was mourned as Constantine the Hellene (Armstrong 1981: 179). For Armstrong, this was partly the result of a long-term homogenizing socialization process required for a powerful, integrated, and hierarchical central bureaucracy. But it was also due to Greek adherence to classical learning and literature, and to Byzantine unwillingness to accept the parity of Latin as a language of empire (Armstrong 1982.: 178—8 I, 116—17).
  • But perhaps the most significant factor in the turn to a Greek ethnicism, which resisted both the Turkish turban and the Latin mitre in the years before the fall of Constantinople, was the opposition of the urban populace, led by the Orthodox party, monks, and priests, to the wealthy urban classes and the Byzantine court. After the Ottoman conquest in 1453, recognition by the Turks of the Greek millet under its Patriarch and Church helped to ensure the persistence of a separate ethnic identity, which, even if it did not produce a ‘precocious nationalism’ among the Greeks, provided the later Greek enlighteners and nationalists with a cultural constituency fed by political dreams and apocalyptic prophecies of the recapture of Constantinople and the restoration of Greek Byzantium and its Orthodox emperor in all his glory.

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