Ethnicity and Nationalism - SE573

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2017-18 2018-19
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
6 15 (7.5) PROF D Theodossopoulos


SE301 Introduction to Social Anthropology or the equivalent.





Ethnicity’ and ‘nationalism’ are matters of contemporary urgency (as we are daily reminded by the media), but while the meanings of these terms are taken for granted, what actually constitutes ethnicity and nationalism, and how they have been historically constituted, is neither clear nor self-evident. This module begins with a consideration of the major theories of nationalism and ethnicity, and then moves on to a series of case studies taken from various societies around the world., and then moves on to examine a number of other important concepts—indigeneity, ‘race’, hybridity, authenticity, ‘invention of tradition’, multiculturalism, globalization—that can help us appreciate the complexity and dynamics of ethnic identities. The general aim of the module is to enable and encourage students to think critically beyond established, homogenous and static ethnic categories.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

24 contact hours


This module contributes
BA Social Anthropology; BSc Anthropology: Joint Honours; with a language; with a year abroad.

Method of assessment

60% written examination; 40% coursework (essay)

Preliminary reading

-Anderson, B. 1991. Imagined Communities.
-Banks, M. 1996. Ethnicity: Anthropological Constructions.
-Comaroff John and Jean Comaroff. 2009. Ethnicity, Inc.
-Gellner, E. 1983. Nations and Nationalism.
-Hobsbawm, E. and T. Ranger (eds) 1983. The Invention of Tradition.
-Hutchinson, J. and Smith, A. 1994. Nationalism (Oxford Readers).
-Hylland-Erikssen, T. 1993. Ethnicity and Nationalism.
-Jenkins, R. 1997. Rethinking Ethnicity: Arguments and Explorations.
-Smith, A. 1986. The Ethnic Origin of Nations.
-Wade, P. 1997. Race and ethnicity in Latin America.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

1. Students are expected to obtain a critical understanding of the ways in which the related phenomena of nationalism and ethnicity have been historically constructed in Europe and globally since the eighteenth century, and to be able to question their taken-for-granted status in the modern world.
They should be also able to:
2. understand the social construction of ‘ethnicity’;
3. appreciate the comparatively late historical construction of nationalism;
4. analyse the social and economic conditions that give rise the ethnic and nationalist sentiments;
5. understand the ways in which ethnicity and nationalism have become ‘naturalized’ in the contemporary world;
6. critically assess concepts related to ethnicity and the categorisation of difference, such as indigeneity, hybridity, authenticity, invention of tradition, and race.
7. consider the ways in which ethnicity and nationalism are being transformed as a result of migration and globalization.

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.