Nation Work

Asian Elites and National Identities
Timothy Brook and Andre Schmid, Editors
Questions assumptions about nationalism by examining the particular origins of the nation in Asia


As increasing attention is drawn to globalization, questions arise about the fate of "the nation," a political and social unit that for centuries has seemed the common-sense way to organize the world. In Nation Work, Timothy Brook and André Schmid draw together eight essays that use historical examples from Asian countries—China, India, Korea, and Japan—to enrich our understandings of the origin and growth of nations.

Asia provides fertile ground for this inquiry, the volume argues, because in Asia the history of the modern nation has been inseparable from global influences in the form of Western imperialism. Yet, while the impetus for building a modern national identity may have come from the need to fashion a favorable place in a world system dominated by Western nations, those engaged in nationalist enterprises found their particular voices more often in relation to tensions within Asia than in relation to more generic tensions between Asia and the West.

With topics ranging from public health measures in nineteenth-century Japan through textual scholarship of Tamil intellectuals, the willful division of Korea's history from China's, the development of China's cotton industry, and the meaning of "postnational-ism" for Chinese artists, the essays reveal the fascinating array of sites at which nation work can take place.

This will be essential reading for historians and social scientists interested in Asia.

Timothy Brook is Professor of History, Stanford University.

André Schmid is Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies, University of Toronto.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . there is much food for thought in this volume. The historical essays contain good and original research and the interpretive essays are appropriately thought-provoking."
    --Prasenjit Duara, University of Chicago, American Historical Review , June 2001
  • "The editors of this excellent book rightly point out that globalization has challenged the whole concept of the nation-state in the present era. . . . this book definitely contributes to our understanding of the theories of the nation and nationalism in selected parts of Asia. It is well written and edited. . . . I recommend the book strongly for specialists and students doing advanced work on nationalist theory as it relates to Asia in a period when nationalism was so crucial a driving force in the region's history."
    --Colin MacKerras, Griffith University, Australia, Pacific Affairs, Vol. 75, No. (Fall 2002)

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 280pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2000
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08764-8

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  • $30.95 U.S.

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