The late twentieth century, with its language of ‘ethnic cleansing’, is an epoch in which ethnicity and nationalism have come into their own. In a recently published anthology on ethnicity, the editors write: ‘Ethnicity, far from fading away, has now become a central issue in the social and political life of every continent. The “end of history”, it seems, turns out to have ushered in the era of ethnicity’ (Hutchinson and Smith, 1996:v). Whether we look at the Balkans, Chechnya, Nagorno-Karabakh, Central Africa or closer to home in Northern Ireland and Euskadi (the Basque Country), some of the most emotionally charged and seemingly intractable political disputes appear to be ‘ethnic’ in origin. The ‘dark gods’ theorists of nationalism who accuse it of releasing and mobilising ethnic hatreds would seem to have a point.