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Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol.1, No.1, (Spring 2002) 1 TWO PERSPECTIVES ON THE RELATIONSHIP OF ETHNICITY TO NATIONALISM: COMPARING GELLNER AND SMITH Huseyin ISIKSAL * “There can be no society which does not feel the need of upholding and reaffirming at regular intervals the collective sentiments and the collective ideas which make its unity and its personality.” Emile Durkheim Introduction The ethnic root of nationalism felt into the agenda of international relations theory, particularly since the 1970s, when resurgence of ethnic nationalism has witnessed in many parts of the world. Today, it is widely acknowledged that ethnicity plays a crucial role in nationalism, especially after the recent ethnic based conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and in the former Soviet Union. However, there are few detailed studies that focus on the relationship between ethnicity and nationalism and especially among the comparison of Anthony D. Smith and Ernest Gellner, as two distinctive scholars on these concepts. In this article I simply sought to bridge this gap. Accordingly, ethnicity and nationalism are highly inter-related but what is the relationship between them? This analysis attempts to shed some light on this issue by considering the works of two aforementioned authors who made considerable contributions in developing of theories relating ethnicity to nationalism. It is worth stressing that it is not the purpose of this essay to analyse and focus on the causes and consequences of the recent ethnic conflicts in particular parts of the world. Therefore, the reader of this essay will not find a particular analysis related with ethnic conflicts that are caused by nationalism. The unique aim of this paper is
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Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol.1, No.1, (Spring 2002) 2 to compare and contrast the literature of Smith and Gellner and analyse the role of ethnicity on nationalism. Ultimately it will be argued that Ernest Gellner’s modernist approach fails to account for contemporary trends in ethnicity and nationalism in some respects and therefore, Anthony Smith provided comparatively better explanation on ethnic root of nationalism. This paper initially sets out to define exactly what each author means by ‘ethnicity’ and ‘nation’. In both cases Smith’s definitions would be considered more valid. After conceptualisation of the key concepts, the discussion then addresses the arguments of A. D. Smith and Ernest Gellner on ethnicity related to ‘nationalism’ that are the core issue at the sake of this paper. Specifically, Smith’s ethno-centric approach will be compared to Gellner’s modernist approach. It will be shown that Smith’s theory has better explanatory power of the relationship of ethnicity to nationalism, as there are several other weaknesses to Gellner’s modernist approach that would be also presented in the final section. Ethnicity and Nation
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course POLS 494 taught by Professor Garymoncrief during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.

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