Political Culture and the Making of Modern Nation-States  book cover
1st Edition

Political Culture and the Making of Modern Nation-States

ISBN 9781612057842
Published June 30, 2015 by Routledge
318 Pages

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Book Description

This book focuses on transformations of political culture from times past to future-present. It defines the meaning of political culture and explores the cultural values and institutions of kinship communities and dynastic intermediaries, including chiefdoms and early states. It systematically examines the rise and gradual universalization of modern sovereign nation-states. Contemporary debates concerning nationality, nationalism, citizenship, and hyphenated identities are engaged. The authors recount the making of political culture in the American nation-state and look at the processes of internal colonialism in the American experience, examining how major ethnic, sectarian, racial, and other distinctions arose and congealed into social and cultural categories. The book concludes with a study of the Holocaust, genocide, crimes against humanity, and the political cultures of violation in post-colonial Rwanda and in racialized ethno-political conflicts in various parts of the world. Struggles over legitimacy in nation-building and state-building are at the heart of this new take on the important role of political culture.

Table of Contents

Part 1-Transformations of Political Culture From Times Past to Future Present
1. Political Culture
2. Kinship Communities as Political Cultures
3. Dynastic Intermediaries: Culture and Governance between Kinship and States
4. Modern Sovereign Nation-States: Nationality, Citizenship, and Hyphenated Identities

Part II-The Making of the Political Culture of the American Nation-State
5. Internal Colonialism and the American Experience
6. Groups as Identity Objects in American Political Culture

Part III-Global Colonialism and The Making of the Modern Nation-State
7. Colonialist and Post-Colonial Political Culture
8. Ethno-Political Violence and Sub-National Conflict

Part IV-The Holocaust, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity: Political Culture in Violation of Personhood
9. The Holocaust
10. Armenia, Cambodia, and Burundi: Racialized Ethno-Political Conflict and Subnational Genocide

Part V-Nation-Building and State Building: Future Challenges in the Present
11. The Struggle Over Legitimacy: A Case Study of Afghanistan

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Edward Weisband is the Edward S. Diggs Endowed Chair Professor in the Department of Political Science at Virginia Tech.

Courtney I. P. Thomas is Visiting Assistant Professor, Undergraduate Advisor, and Internship Coordinator in the Department of Political Science/International Studies at Virginia Tech.


“In the past quarter century, the United Nations, the United States and other world powers have embarked on a range of ambitious humanitarian interventions designed to promote peace, reconciliation and recovery in societies mired in civil conflict. The overall success of these efforts has been modest, with setbacks resulting from a failure of policy-makers to appreciate and understand the role of political culture in the ambitious task of "nation-building." Political Culture and the Making of Modern Nation-States affirms the importance of that role through a rich and highly engaging exploration of the relationships between culture, governance and legitimacy. It offers critical lessons for practitioners, as well as extremely valuable perspectives for students and scholars.”
—Eric P. Schwartz, Dean, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota

“Weisband and Thomas have written a book that is conceptually profound, empirically rich and broad in its implications. . . .They explore the dynamics of identity construction and examine their political consequences across a range of cases. En route, they unpack the concept of culture, show its transformation in the modern world, offer two enlightening case studies of genocide, and one of post 9/11 nation building.”
—Richard Ned Lebow, King's College London, University of Cambridge, and Dartmouth College Emeritus