chapter
INTRODUCTION
Pages 14

This study represents an attempt to investigate the dominant political phenomenon of modern times, namely nationalism. As such, it constitutes yet another contribution to the growing body of academic literature which has attempted, in the past couple of decades, to explain, theorize and prognosticate about nations and nationalism. Why, given the extent of the field, is another study warranted? Two specific reasons suggest themselves. First, despite the oft-repeated claim that nations and nationalism are past their sell-by date, the contemporary world is, in fact, undergoing a realignment in which nations and nationalisms are playing a major, and sometimes bloody, part. The ongoing crisis in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine, the corrosive disintegration of Indonesia, the incremental process in Ireland and the continuing conflict in Spain, not to mention those grim and gratuitous nationalist conflicts which have saturated the Balkans in blood all give the lie to the notion that nationalism is on the decline. In the case of this present study, the intractable stalemate between India and Pakistan over the disputed area of Kashmir and the bitter feud between the state and the Islamist groups in Egpyt both provide the impetus for new attempts at studying and, more importantly, understanding the origins and histories of such conflicts. Nor should we imagine, as globalization and supra-national conflicts – such as the ‘war on terror’ – emerge to contest the ‘national’ as the primary arena of political, economic and cultural life, that the relevance of nations and nationalism in any ‘post-national’ world has passed. Indeed, as this book will attempt to demonstrate, the shape of nations, and the character of the movements that built them in the high age of nationalism, continues to have profound and lasting consequences on the contemporary world.