5 6 lacking with few exceptions are the many recent

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semiotic, primordialist, and perennialist portrayals (Smith, 1998, pp. 5-6). Lacking, with few exceptions, are the many recent anthropological studies associated with nationalism and how nationalist ideals are part of the everyday lives of people, especially the many ethnographies on the subject. A true analysis of Smith’s writings on nationalism demonstrates some genuine contradictions with the evolution of his ideas over the years. Undoubtedly though, his ideas have steadfastly contributed to the burgeoning scholarship on nationalism over the past thirty years. Early on it is evident that Smith (1971, p. 155) viewed nationalism as stemming from the elites and his early approach can be categorized as highly structuralist, neo-evolutionary, and top- down. Unhelpfully, he tends to oversimplify nationalist movements belonging to one type but not another. Of peoples in his survey, one grouping, are the Basques which he claims belong to the secessionist grouping and not the irredentist one (Smith, 1971, p. 228). Moreover, while he criticizes primordialist paradigms in his later writings, in his earlier works his arguments are similar to primordialist thinking (Smith, 1979, pp. 86-114, p. 178). What is least understandable are how ethnic communities developed into nationalists from the distant past. In his book, The Ethnic Origins of Nations (1986), he discusses the “sentiments” of “people long dead”, yet it is unclear that Elamites (circa 3,500 B.C. to 500 B.C.) “refers to the same population” (Banks, 1996, pp. 130-131). In other words, claiming ethnicity in the past of ill-defined groups with scant records is hardly erudite historiography because we cannot know these groups and their imaginings without thorough historical accounts. It is facile to continue this sort of critique along a similar vein following his thoughts on Ancient Egyptians. Smith (1981, p. 85), for example, asserts nationalist projects in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries can trace their “modernity” in antiquity to the “Sumerians and ancient Egyptians”. This is wholeheartedly untrue. First, the control of the state or empire was wholly relegated to the elites of Ancient Egypt. The ruling class or royals were not only considered to be
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31 demi-gods but were literate while the masses were not. This is overlooking the class structure of ancient Egypt. Nationalism in the modern sense as Anderson (1983) rightly championed was aided by print-technology and the fact that the masses could read newspapers. Moreover, speaking of Ancient Egyptians as an ethnic community supposes a homogeneity which did not exist, not in the passage of time, nor in the composition of the population. Ancient Egyptians kings or pharaohs ruled over a diverse and vast population from modern-day Sudan and Egypt to modern-day Palestine. While different Egyptian dynasties were characteristically distinct, exemplar the rule of Amenhotep IV and the dynastic reign of the Ptolemaic kings and queens.
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