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    STUDIA HISTORIA - Issue no. 1 / 2005  

Authors:  SORIN MITU.
  Abstract:   The question of the nature, origin and age of nations has generated such heated debates during the past few decades that the answers provided have led to the development of veritable scientific paradigms. The concept of paradigm shows that one is not dealing simply with competing theories, but with frameworks for the understanding of the very general issue, the conciliation of which seems almost impossible. Anthony D. Smith has offered a systematic classification and a penetrating critique of the issues. On the one hand, primordialism and perennialism argue that nations have old origins, at least medieval, if not ancient. On the other hand, modernism considers that the nation is a recent phenomenon, the result of a process of modernisation. Finally, ethno-symbolism tries to surpass this dispute underlining the historical continuity between modern nations and the ethnies which have preceded them. I will not detail here the traits of the above mentioned theories, restricting myself to suggesting to the readers the historiographical works of Smith and, of course the works of the most important representatives of these trends. Instead, in this article I will concentrate on the ideological context of the debate, and on the relationships between the dominant and the contending paradigms.  
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