In spite of the stream of publications over the last thirty years on ancient and medieval ethnicity and national identity, the dominant paradigm in ethnicity and nationalism studies remains modernist the view that nationhood is an essentially modern phenomenon and was non-existent or peculiarly unimportant before the 18th century. We believe it is time to reopen this debate.
Scholars working on pre-modern collective identities too often avoid the challenge of modernism, either by using allegedly unproblematic terminology of ethnicity or by employing the vocabulary of nationhood uncritically.
This conference, therefore, aims at tackling these difficult
theoretical issues head on. This can only truly be achieved by bringing together a range of researchers working on ancient, late antique, early medieval, high medieval, late medieval, and early modern ethnicity and nationhood.
Thus we hope to reinvigorate discussion of pre-modern ethnicity
and nationhood, as well as to go beyond the unhelpful chronological divisions which have emerged through surprisingly fragmented research on pre-modern collective identities.
Overall, the goal of our conference is to encourage systemic conceptual thinking about pre-modern identity and nationhood, and to consider the similarities and differences between the construction and use of ethnic and national categories both within those periods, and in comparison with modernity.
Keynote lectures will be given by Caspar Hirschi, Len Scales, Walter Pohl, Susan Reynolds and Tim Whitmarsh.
To stimulate discussion, these keynote lectures will be responded to by some of the leading experts on modern national identity and nationalism Monica Baár, Stefan Berger, John Breuilly and Oliver Zimmer as well as by Azar Gat, the author of a recent book on the long history of political ethnicity and nationhood.