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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Racial Type of the Ancient Hellenes

Racial Type of the Ancient Hellenes
by Dienekes Pontikos
Last Update: 23 July 2009

Greek women through the ages: Minoan, Cycladic, Mycenaean, Classical, Modern
This essay attempts a critical evaluation of the extant evidence about the racial type of the Ancient Greeks. It is in part an anthropological study in its own right, and in part a response to those, especially of the Nordicist school, who claim that the Ancient Greeks were physically different from the modern ones. If it sometimes appears that too much effort is spent in convincing the reader of simple enough points, it is because of my desire not to let any of the arguments of people holding different views unchallenged.
Anthropological Evidence
Early anthropologists commonly believed that the Hellenes belonged principally to the Mediterranean(a) race. This was the view shared by Sergi [1] and Ripley [2]. In a more recent study of the problem of Race, John R. Baker in [5] says that later studies “do not appear to have disproved” these views. Buxton in [3] shares this general view, although he observes that brachycephals(b) were a part of the Greek population from the beginning and that the Greeks were a mix of Alpine(c) and Mediterranean people from a “comparatively early date.” The American anthropologist Coon in [4] agrees when he asserts that the Greeks are an Alpine/Mediterranean mix, with a weak Nordic(d) component, being “remarkably similar” to their ancient ancestors.
The most complete study of Greek skeletal material from Neolithic to modern times was carried out by American anthropologist J. Lawrence Angel [6] who found that in the early age racial variability in Greece was 7% above average, indicating that the Greeks had multiple origins within the Europid racial family. Angel noted that from the earliest times to the present “racial continuity in Greece is striking.” Buxton [30] who had earlier studied Greek skeletal material and measured modern Greeks, especially in Cyprus, finds that the modern Greeks “possess physical characteristics not differing essentially from those of the former [ancient Greeks].”
The most extensive study of modern Greeks has been carried by the Greek anthropologist Aris N. Poulianos [10,11]. Poulianos’ study included the collection and study of more than seventy anthropometric measurements from a large sample of thousands of Greeks from different parts of the country. His main conclusions are that both Greeks and their neighboring populations are basically a mixture of Aegeans (a Mediterranean type local to the area) and Epirotics (Dinarics(e)) and are descended from the ancient inhabitants of the lands in which they live. The presence of individuals which approximate the Nordic subrace is minimal, and does not exceed 4-6% even in the most depigmented groups of Greece. More frequent are individuals which approximate the Alpine race of Central Europe. These reach up to 20-30% of some groups and are often blended with more southern racial types. Poulianos’ conclusions of Greek continuity are not simply the wishful thinking of a modern Greek. In a critical review of his book [53], J. Lawrence Angel states that “Poulianos is correct in pointing out ... that there is complete continuity genetically from ancient to modern times.”
Nikolaos Xirotiris [37], more recently, surveyed Greek skeletal material and a number of genetical and anthropometrical studies on modern Greeks. His discoveries were that like in antiquity, the Greek terrain which favors isolation, has led to the formation of local types by micro-evolution. He too concludes racial continuity in Greece, not finding traces of any significant alteration of the Greek racial complex, from prehistory, through classical and medieval, to modern times.
The American anthropologist Roland Dixon studied the funeral masks of Spartans and found them to be Alpine [23]. Italian anthropologist Raffaello Battaglia found the death masks of the Shaft Grave Mycenaeans to represent Dinaric physiognomies [35]. J. Lawrence Angel expressed similar opinions in that he believed that northern intruders in Greece were always of “Dinaroid-Alpine central trend” [19] added to the earlier Mediterranean/Alpine blend. Racial elements were not separate but combined to produce Greek civilization [19]. Finally, a more recent statistical comparison [18] of ancient and modern Greek skulls resulted in the discovery of “a remarkable similarity in craniofacial morphology between modern and ancient Greeks.”

Examples of Ancient Greek types: “Mediterranean”: Pericles, 5th c. BC statesman, narrow-faced and fine-featured; “Alpine”: Plato, 4th c. BC philosopher, broad-faced and broad-headed; “Dinaric”: Aristippos, 4th c. BC philosopher, short and high-headed, salient nose
Baker [5] discusses the origin of blondism and says “It is often supposed that blondness is an indication of Nordid ancestry. Taken by itself, it is nothing of the kind.” Hence, it can be safely assumed that the existence of blond individuals in the Classical world does not require an explanation of Northern ancestry, as German anthropologist Hans Guenther [15] and the Nordicist school presumed. This view was shared by Buxton in [3] where he states “In regard to the Achaeans we have shown that there appears to be no good ground for suspecting the presence of Nordics.” F.G. Debets expresses a similar opinion [32] when he states that “In the Bronze Age, we generally find the same types as in the modern population, with different distribution. We cannot speak of miscegenation with the Nordic race.” With regard to the modern Greeks Buxton says [30] “the evidence of blue eyes is certainly insufficient to establish their [Nordics’] presence as a significant element in the population.” Carleton Coon [14] also cautions against ascribing blonde elements in Mediterranean populations to “some invasion of Goths or Scyths, or the miscegenation of Crusaders,” noting that “one of the characteristics of the Mediterranean race is a minority tendency to blondism.” Coon warns that “we cannot be sure that all prehistoric skeletal material which seems Nordic in an osteological sense was associated with blond soft parts” [4]. The same view is echoed by Angel [6] who states with respect to the Nordic-Iranian morphological type that “There is no reason to suppose that the Nordic-Iranian type in Greece was as blond as are Nordics in northern latitudes.” Moreover The Alpine race (prevalent in much of continental Europe) has an even greater occurrence of blondism and frequently gray eyes [2]. W. W. Howells of Harvard University also notes [48] that “Not all ‘Nordics’ are blond, and not all blonds are ‘Nordic,’ by any means.” American anthropologist Earnest Hooton [40] cautions that the existence of occasional blonds in Greek literature “does not justify inflation into pseudo-histories of conquering ‘Nordic’ tribes invading the Greek peninsula.” American anthropologist W. M. Krogman put it simply [36]: “Nordics today have not cornered the market on blondism!”
Coon [4], based on a sample of 113 Greeks measured in Boston linked the presence of the weak blond component (<5%) present in Greeks with Nordic origin, mainly due to its linkage with an absence of eyebrow concurrency. No such correlation emerges in Poulianos’ [10] sample from different regions, which exceeds 3,000 individuals. Note also, that the blondest Greek group (Macedonia) has a cephalic index of 83.08, higher than the Greek average. Like in Italy [4], blondism in Greece is slightly correlated with broader heads. The opposite would be expected if it was Nordic in origin.
In conclusion, it is most likely that the minority blonde element in Greece is not necessarily associated with historical migrations. It is also true that the introduction of northern strains to the Greek population in various times from pre-history to recent times may have introduced more blond elements.

Examples of Modern Greek types: These modern Greeks were classified by J. Lawrence Angel [38] as belonging to each of the six morphological types of the Ancient Greeks. First row: Basic White, Classic Mediterranean; Second row: Nordic-Iranian, Dinaric-Mediterranean; Third row: Mixed Alpine, Alpine
Literary Evidence
It is sometimes mentioned that ancient literature provides evidence for the significant existence of Nordics in ancient Hellas. It does nothing of the kind. There are numerous references to brunets in ancient mythology and literature, e.g., the Muses, Poseidon, Alcmena, Theseus, Zeus, Dionysos and Odysseus are described as possessing either dark hair or dark eyes. Hercules, the Greeks’ favorite hero is described as dark (melanan), hook-nosed (grupon) by Dicaearchus (Clement of Alexandria, “Protreptic to the Greeks” 2.30.7). Hercules was also proverbially melampugos (having a black behind) as indicative of his bravery, as opposed to pugargos (having a white behind), a coward [29]. The Greek poetess Sappho (an aristocrat from the isle of Lesbos in the 7th c. BC) reveals that both she and her mother were dark (Fr. 98a, line 11). Philoktetes and Aias were also both brunet-skinned and black-haired (Malalas, Chronogr. 104, 3-8). The Spartan kings were Heraclids, claiming descent from Hercules. Similarly, Agamemnon and Menelaus, the Atreid leaders of the Achaeans in the Trojan War were descendants of Pelops, whose name means "dark-faced" [55]. Some have argued that Menelaus is described by Homer as xanthos to reflect the racial type of the Greek aristocracy; if this was true, how odd that the founder of his dynasty (whose name is preserved in that of the Peloponnese, lit. Pelops' Island) would be described as “dark”.
We must also not neglect to mention the detailed analysis of classicist Denys Page [26] who, in agreement with the ancient testimony of Callimachus (Fr. 299.1) demonstrates that the epithet elikôpes, collectively used for the Homeric Achaeans, probably meant “dark-eyed,” rather than “with rolling eyes” as it was erroneously thought. Eleanor Irwin, who wrote the definitive work on color terms in Greek poetry [29] agrees with this opinion, and so does Noel Robertson who summarizes [45] current opinion as follows: “it is clear that the meaning ‘black’ is well-founded, whereas ‘rolling’ or ‘twisting’ rests on a misunderstanding of various compounds.” Finally, some personages (e.g., Theseus and Dionysos) are portrayed in Greek literature sometimes as blond (Euripides) and sometimes as brunet (Hesiod), indicating that there was not a uniform belief about their pigmentation. The second most popular Greek hero, Theseus, founder of Athens was dark-eyed (Bacchylides 17.16-19).

Greek Men: Greek from Tinos, circa 1911; Greek sculpture of “Diadoumenos,” circa 430BC; Old Cretan Man; Poseidon of Artemision
A certain measure of naivete can excuse claims of the alleged blondeness of the ancient Greeks. Sometimes, the common-sense explanation of literary descriptions is conveniently discounted, and a generalization from sporadic references to blondes in ancient literature is performed without much thought. In an oft-used example, Orestes’ hair is described as fair, in Euripides’ Electra (line 515) as a dramatic device aiding Electra’s recognition of her brother from a lock of his hair on her father Agamemnon’s tomb. Clearly, if Orestes was depicted as brunet, the common Greek color, it would be impossible for Electra to identify him. Indeed, according to the poet, the person who left the fair lock on the tomb “certainly was no Argive” (line 517) suggesting that the inhabitants of Argos mostly had dark hair. Similarly, Demeter, the goddess of the corn is described as light-haired (xanthe) and so is Apollo, the god of light and the sun. Poseidon, the sea god is dark-haired (kuanochaites), as is Hades, god of the underworld, while Eos, the Dawn goddess is rosy-fingered (rhododaktylos).
There are only four mortals in the Iliad who are described as xanthoi. From this scanty evidence, the generalization “the Achaeans were blonde” is arrived by the Nordicists. Does the absence of descriptions of brunets signify that there were no brunets in the southernmost extremity of Europe in Mycenaean times? Clearly, such a thesis overlooks the common use of color terms as distinctive attributes of their possessors. It is more reasonable to think that Menelaos and Achilleus are described as xanthoi, while hundreds of other heroes are not as indicative that these two possessed a trait which was otherwise uncommon, i.e., light pigmentation of hair. The same can be said for light eyes as well, and e.g., Athena’s light eyes caused the scorn of Hera and Aphrodite in a text by Hyginus who presumably did not have such eyes (Hyginus, Fabulae, Marsyas).
We must also dispel the notion that xanthos always refers to yellow hair, or that purros refers to purely red hair. For the former, we note that Aristophanes used xanthizein to describe roasting meat, which of course does not turn yellow. Additionally, Strabo uses xanthotrichein and leukotrichein (making hair xanthon and making hair “white”) indicating that xanthon was a darker shade than extremely fair hair. George Cedrenus uses it to describe the eyes of the Virgin (xanthommaton); eyes are rarely yellow, unless jaundiced, which seems unlikely in this case. In modern Greek it may be used to describe any color short of black [22]. In ancient Greek, according to Barbara Fowler [28] was any color short of black or dark brown, while Wace [22] believes that it may have been at most auburn. Color terms are notoriously relative; xanthos may only be taken to mean the fair end of the Greek hair continuum, not blond. This impression is enhanced by the descriptions of northern European hair as polios (gray, usually of old people) or leukon (white) to be found in Greek literature (Diodorus Siculus, Adamantius Judaeus).
As for purros it is noteworthy that the common Greek words for fiery red eruthros is not employed for hair, while purros is given by Aelius Herodianus (Partitiones 115, 10) for the color of eyes. Human eyes are never red, or so-called strawberry blond, but they are often of a brown tint mixed with red. It is certain that at least in some cases, reddish brown is intended, while in others, as e.g., in describing German hair, reddish blond may be appropriate, given the known pigmentation of Germans. It must also be remembered that no ethnic taxon of man is recorded as being primarily red-headed. Therefore, purros means having a red tinge, it does not mean redhead.
It would be worthwhile to quote here in full, the opinion of British anthropologist John Beddoe [34]. Beddoe studied thousands of Britons and continental Europeans, and comparing his designations with that of other observers, came to realize the relativity of color terms:
Thus almost all French anthropologists say that the majority of persons in the north of France are blond; whereas almost all Englishmen would say they were dark, each set of observers setting up as a standard what they are accustomed to see around them when at home. What is darkish brown to most Englishmen would be chestnut in the nomenclature of most Parisians, and perhaps even blond in that of Auvergne or Provence; an ancient Roman might probably have called it sufflavus or even flavus.

Greek Gods: Apollo (Athenian kylix, 480-470BC); Zeus (Olympia, 470BC); Demeter (3rd c. BC)

Artistic Evidence
Greek art furnishes important information about the racial type of the ancient Hellenes. Coon in [4] observed that the beauty ideal of a straight nose and a lithe body was borrowed from Minoan Crete which was undisputably peopled by Mediterraneans [5,11]. The characteristic nose-forehead continuity of idealistic depictions of gods and heroes is more typical of Mediterraneans than Nordics [5], although it was rare for ancient Greeks [6] as it is for modern ones [10]. Angel [6] observes though, that his Dinaric-Mediterranean (Type F) morphological type approaches this ideal, in contrast to the Nordic-Iranian (Type D) in which the nasal bone projects at a sharp angle with the frontal bone. Indeed, Bertil Lundman, who claimed to have studied more than 20,000 individuals anthropologically [49], remarked that “the morphology of the Northlander must be assumed to be sufficiently known; it is necessary to stress only that a high nose bridge with a so-called Greek profile always points to foreign admixture.” Thus, the Greek profile is seen as evidence of the “Northern” character of the Ancient Greeks, yet a real expert on northern physical anthropology acknowledges that it is foreign to the Northern morphological type.
Statues sometimes show traces of pigmentation; this includes different pigment types and is not uniform, representing the different hair colors among Greeks. Manzelli in a study of polychromatic Archaic Greek statuary [43] records an incidence of only 2% of yellow hair.(f) Manzelli also records that eye colors were black, “red,” and brown in the majority of surviving examples, with only a single example having green eyes. Mary Stieber [47] who studied the appearance of archaic statues of young women called korai also concludes that despite the presence of light hair in some examples, “it remains a fact that yellow hair is a rarity; for this reason alone it is tempting to infer that the percentage of its occurrence in female statues on the Acropolis is largely a reflection of its occurrence in real life.” Buxton in [3] records an interesting fact observed by Sergi [1], Ripley [2], and Deniker [27] and the Greek anthropologist Klon Stephanos. A quote from Ripley (p.410) “these ideal heads [of the statues] are distinctly brachycephalic.” Importantly, various populations in modern Hellas who are suspected by some (for historical and linguistic reasons) to represent a relatively pure Hellenic type, the Sphakiots and Maniates are also brachycephalic. Ancient Greeks were, however, on average mesocephalic [6].
The German art historian, Winckelmann [16] discusses extensively the Greek beauty ideal. The low forehead, luxurious curly hair, straight nose in continuity to the nose, large eyes and ovoid faces described by the author are typical of Southern Europe, contrasting with the small eyes, high forehead, angular features and straight hair typical of more northern climes. Winckelmann observes the similarity of modern Greeks, particularly from the islands to the classical forms, relating in particular that the Greek women of Chios are the “most beautiful of the human race.”
Winckelmann's impressions are supported by a modern study by Farkas et al. [51], according to which 20% of modern Greek males have a forehead (tragion to nasion) that is lower than the normal range of white Americans, who are mostly of northwestern European descent; The lowness of the forehead was also typical of ancient Greeks [6]. The same study discovered that 50% of Greek males and 16.7% of Greek females have an eye fissure length greater than the normal range of white Americans.
Greek pottery cannot be used directly for determining pigmentation, because most of it is bi-chromatic. It is interesting though, that in the more realistic red-figure vases, the hair is almost always painted black, creating a great contrast with the body which is white (numerous examples in [24]). In white background lekythoi, realistic colors are used. Extreme blondness, typical of Nordic individuals is almost completely absent while many examples have hair that is black or a dark brown. Reddish brown is also present. Martin F. Kilmer, in [7: p.131, n.4] in discussing an Etruscan vase showing a blond woman says that this is “not a common Greek feature.” Thus, while examples of blonde hair in Greek art are not unknown (e.g., the Blonde Ephebe of the Acropolis, whose hair is deep yellow [21]), they are not common.
Theater masks also sometimes provide information about human pigmentation; this may be especially important since in theater different character types are given stereotypical features. For example, a 4th c. BC mask of a hetaira or courtesan had colour that “seems to have been black for the brows and eyelashes and red for the hair,” while “Good Athenian girls had black hair.” [46] As will be shown below, this agrees with the ancient literary evidence which disparages hair lightening as unfit for wise women.

Examples from Greek Art: An Athenian woman; A Greek man from Tarentum; A Greek woman from Paestum; A Greek man from Paestum
Unlike statuary and pottery, most Ancient Greek painting has not survived. Fortunately, Greek originals were copied by the Romans, and several frescoes with themes from life and mythology have survived in Pompeii and Herculaneum. These were buried under tons of volcanic ashes and have been brought back, almost intact, by modern archaeology. In all scenes, men and women are given the familiar features known from the plastic arts, and are painted with vivid colors. Eyes are uniformly brown, and hair ranges from a lightish brown to black. The frescoes of Pompeii are particularly valuable because they show a virtual roster of ancient Greek heroes, indicating how these were imagined by the Greek mind.

Greek Heroes from Pompeii: Perseus, Jason, Theseus, Hercules, Achilles
Evidence for the appearance of Greeks and Non-Greeks
The Greek authors themselves never made a direct statement concerning their own racial type. It was however recognized that the Greeks were darker than the northern people whose paleness and blondness is contrasted in numerous authors with the swarthiness of the Egyptians and Ethiopians. The Hellenes believed that they represented the Golden Mean in terms of appearance. It is safe to assume that they were generally darker than Northern Europeans and lighter than Egyptians. Even the Thracians to their north are usually depicted in Greek pottery with “the same dark hair and the same facial features as the Greeks” [9], although in some cases they are depicted as fair as well. This agrees with Poulianos’ [10] pronouncement that the Thracians like the modern Bulgarians belonged mainly to the Aegean anthropological type. [9] also gives the telling example of a neck amphora on exhibit at the Getty Museum in which the Homeric scene of the Achaean raid on the Trojan camp by Odysseus and Diomedes is portrayed. The Greek heroes have dark hair, while the Thracian allies of the Trojans have light hair.
In a very interesting part of his Histories (4.108-109), Herodotus describes a Scythian tribe, the Budini as “ruddy,” or “red-haired” purron and “blue/gray-eyed” glaukoi. In their land, exists a city, Gelon, inhabited by the Geloni. While the Budini are nomads, the Geloni are farmers, speak a language that is half-Greek and half-Scythian and worship Greek gods. According to Herodotus, they are Greek colonists who left their sea ports to live inland among the Budini. Interestingly, Herodotus states that the Geloni are like the fair Budini in “neither form nor coloring” [ouden ten ideen homoioi oude to chroma].
We must also mention the early testimony of Xenophanes of Colophon (6th c. BC, Fr. 13-14) who shows that people fashion the gods after their own image, and, after ironically saying “if oxen had gods they would be like oxen,” again uses the stock example of the purroi and glaukoi Thracians, contrasted with the pug-nosed (simoi) and dark (melanes) Ethiopians to show that people fashion their gods after their own image. How odd this must have seemed to his Greek audience if it included a considerable number of Thracian-like individuals!
It would be interesting to quote here in full a passage from the Greek medical writer Galen (Galen, “Mixtures”) which contrasts the hair color of different ancient people. Note that “red” in this passage is Greek purros, a word with ambiguous meaning.
So much for the formation of the hair; we should now pass on to the features of all the incidental features of the mixtures, as regards the differences of hair according to age, place, and nature of the body. The hair of Egyptians, Arabs, Indians, and of general all peoples who inhabit hot, dry places, has poor growth and is black, dry, curly and brittle. That of the inhabitants of cold, wet places, conversely - Illyrians, Germans, Dalmatians, Sauromatians, and the Scythian types of people in general- has reasonably good growth and is thin, straight, and red. Those who live in some well-balanced land which is between these in quality have hair with extremely good growth, which is strong, fairly black, moderately thick, and neither completely curly nor completely straight. The differences due to age are analogous to these: with regard to the qualities of strength, thickness, size, and colour, infants’ hair is similar to the Germans’, hair in the prime of life to the Ethiopians’, and that of ephebes and children to the hair of people of well-balanced lands.
It is clear from the preceding passage, that Greeks, who inhabited the “well-balanced lands” possessed mostly hair that was lighter in infancy and “fairly black” in adult life. It is interesting to note that according to Coon [4], 80% of modern Greeks have dark brown hair. The contrast between fair northerners, dark southerners and intermediate Greeks is echoed in too many places in Greek literature to note, an additional example is in Claudius Ptolemaeus Math., Apotelesmatica. Bk 4 ch. 10. Besides color, Galen also mentions that the canon of the Greek sculptor Polyclitus, which governed the proportions of the human body (Galenus Med., De sanitate tuenda libri vi. Kühn volume 6 page 127 line 1) is found mostly in Greek lands:
In our country, as in others of good climate, one may see many bodies similar [to the canon], but in Scythians, Egyptians and Arabs, not even in a dream can one expect to find such a body.
We have already mentioned the testimony of Winckelmann [16] who found classical physiques in modern times in Greek-colonized Southern Italy. We will add that of another German, J.G. Kohl [25] who “found the most beautiful faces and physiques, reminiscent of works by Praxiteles” in 19th c. Greece.
James Dee summarized [54] the ancient Greek view of their differences with foreigners with regard to pigmentation as follows:
We have now seen several reasons why the Greeks and Romans do not describe themselves as a leukon genos or as albi homines—or as anything else because they had no regular word in their color vocabulary for themselves—and we can see that the concept of a distinct “white race” was not present in the ancient world. Two other, quite familiar cross-cultural oppositions help explain that fact. The classical Greeks divided humans into two classes, Hellenes, their word for themselves, and barbaroi, which originally meant “non-Greek-speaking foreigners,” and they felt with some justification, superior to all of them. They were, if anything, “Hellenic Supremacists,” and they would have laughed at the idea of “Eurocentrism” if it meant linking themselves in any serious way with those barbarian transalpine tribes.
Adamantius Judaeus
An oft-quoted passage from the 4th c. AD Jewish writer Adamantius Judaeus is used to “prove” that the original Greeks were tall, pale, blond and light-eyed. Let us not question, for the sake of argument, the knowledge of Adamantius as to the physical type of early Greek speakers already twenty five centuries in his past. Reproducing the passage in the original Greek reveals that the Greeks were moderately tall men (autarkôs megaloi andres), broader, i.e., not linear-bodied (euruteroi), with moderately firm flesh (sarkos krasin echontes metrian eupagesteran), lighter-skinned (leukoteroi tên chroan), with a medium-sized head (kephalên mesên to megethos), a strong neck(trachêlon eurôston), slightly-curly brown hair (trichôma hupoxanthon hapalôteron oulon praôs), a square face, i.e., with a broad jaw and not long (prosôpon tetragônon), narrow lips (cheilê lepta), straight nose (rhina orthên), liquid, “glad,” quick eyes full of light (ophthalmous hugrous charopous gorgous phôs polu echontas en heautois).
Let us examine this passage critically. Now, it is certain, that if the early “Hellenes” came from northern Greece, being the “descendants of Hellen and his sons” of Thessaly and Pindos, that they would be lighter in terms of pigmentation than the southern Greeks with whom they blended. Even today, in Greece, the inhabitants of the Pindos mountain range, and of northern Greece in general, tend to be lighter-skinned [4, 10]. Adamantius also tells us that they are moderately, not very tall, as he despises both very tall and very low stature. The same principle, common in the Greek physiognomists applies to their medium sized heads, and their brown hair, not very xanthê, whitish (agan xanthê kai hupoleukos, hopoia Skuthôn kai Keltôn) as that of Scythians and Celts which for him implies stupidity, awkwardness and savageness (amathian kai skaiotêta kai agriotêta). Of the color of the eyes of these Greeks he does not say, most notably he does not say that they were glaukoi, i.e., gray-blue, although he does say that this color is found among northern people along with white hair (leukoi tas komas) and slack flesh (sarki lagarâi), and tall stature (eumêkeis).
Adamantius thus distinguishes Greeks from northern (and southern) people in almost every anthropological attribute. They are darker-haired, their eyes are not said to be blue-gray, their flesh is firm (thin skin which wrinkles finely is typical of northern Europe), they are tall, but not very tall, and they are also broader, with medium-sized heads, slightly curly not straight hair, etc. It is thus certain, that the Greek race described by Adamantius is not that of northerners (Scythians, Celts) who as we know are themselves only partly of Nordic race.
To finally establish this fact, we turn to anthropology and try to find correlations between Adamantius’ description and Greeks. According to Coon [4], Greeks are quite tall for Europeans, as tall as northern Frenchmen, but not as tall as Scandinavians. They are relatively broad and stocky with well-developed musculature, much like their prehistoric ancestors [13]. 90% of them have some sort of brown hair from dark to light inclining to blond. In the Near East, black hair is predominant, while in northern Europe the flaxen shades are more important. 50% have pinkish white skin and the remainder have olive white and light brown skin; few have the ruddy skin despised by Adamantius. The great breadth of the jaw is noted both by Coon as a “a Greek specialty” for the modern Greeks and by Angel [6] for ancient ones. Angel considered it as “the most striking feature of the Greek face”. A modern study by Farkas et al. [51] confirms this observation, noting that 53.3% of Greek males and 26.7% of Greek females have a jaw that is wider than the normal range of North American whites. The head size of Greeks is medium, not as large as e.g., Norwegians or Irishmen, but not as small as Near-Eastern people and Africans. Their hair is wavier than northern people, but not as curly as Near-Eastern ones. The nose is straight in the majority but we concede that the beauty of their eyes cannot be quantified or proven. In all other respects, the Greeks are a close match for Adamantius’ Greeks.
Class Differences in Physique?
It is sometimes maintained that the Greek citizens were of a different physical type than their slaves. This is inaccurate. Greek slaves were either of Greek origin or from neighboring lands. Some slaves from more distant lands probably existed as well, both relatively fairer (Scythians) and darker (Syrians). But on the whole, in Classical Athens at the height of its power, citizens were indistinguishable physically from metics and slaves, according to the Old Oligarch’s “Constitution of the Athenians” (written between 446-424BC) [8]:
If the law permitted a free man to strike a slave or freedman, he would often find that he had mistaken an Athenian for a slave and struck him, for, so far as clothing and general appearance are concerned, the common people [ho demos] look just the same as the slaves and metics.

Examples from Mycenaean Greek Art: Chariot scene; Female figure
Some have even argued that thousands of Middle-Easterners were granted Athenian citizenship during the Peloponesian War (post-411BC) because of the shortage of manpower caused by that conflict. Such a suggestion is little more than an invention of its authors, for the only exhaustive study, by the Hungarian scholar Gyorgy Nemeth [17] on the foreign-born residents (“metics”) up to 400BC in Athens which studied all such people whose identity is known from literature, tombstones and a variety of other sources reveals that most of them were from the Delian League (hence Greeks), or from Greek city-states close to Athens (Megara, Corinth), while the most distant point of origin was Syracuse in Sicily.
A similar argument suggests that the “original” Greeks were fair, but they mixed with the darker inhabitants of Greece. The first people known to be Greek were the Mycenaeans. British archaeologist Oliver Dickinson noted that in Mycenaean art, virtually all people are drawn with dark hair and eyes [42] like ancient and modern Greeks:
Frescoes normally show eyes and hair as dark (one girl in the Xeste 3 fresco has reddish hair), skin conventionally as red-brown on males and white on females, as in Egypt. All are comparable with the colouring used on later Greek statues and paintings, and suggest that the early populations were similar in complexion and colouring to the ancient, and indeed the modern, Greeks, whom they might equally have resembled in variety of physical type.
Moreover, the burials at the Royal Graves of Mycenae, c. 1600BC [12] show a variety of stature and head form representing multiple subracial types. Thus, it is safe to assume that from earliest times, the Greek aristocracy didn’t belong to a particular physical type. The main difference between aristocrats and commoners was the slightly larger size of the former, which he explains as due to better diet and social selection for positions of leadership in warfare. That the Mycenaean aristocrats were racially similar to the common Greeks was also confirmed by a more recent multi-dimensional analysis of several East Mediterranean skeletal samples by Musgrave and Evans [41]. They found that “these Bronze Age Greeks from Attica and the Argolid [Mycenaean aristocrats] belonged to a single, homogeneous population.” The burials at Lerna [13] from the 3rd millennium onwards may represent a fusion of Greek and non-Greek speakers. Likewise, single tombs or clan tombs contain multiple racial types, discrediting the notion of a racially distinct aristocratic caste. Angel who sought to study the biological component of Greek achievement, by observing this heterogeneity rightfully, dismissed the claim of German Nordicist Hans F K Guenther [20] as “absurd” [19], warning against “such bogeys as ‘Nordic Superiority’” [31] underlying them. German anthropologist Ilse Schwidetzky [33] also warns that “associating cultural decline with denordization is an extremely rash and petty conclusion.” Angel [19] observes that criminals, who must have been drawn from the lower social strata and regular Athenians do not differ in physique. The American historian Chester G. Starr summarized the “evidence” of the Nordicist theory thus [50]:
Nowhere in historic times is there any valid evidence that the upper classes of one area differed in culture from those of another because of racial background, nor within any one people did the upper and lower classes have basically different cultural inheritances. Modern assertions that the masters preserved a Nordic outlook and so were more capable of culture are pure nonsense, bred of modern racial prejudice, not of the ancient evidence.
More Literary Evidence
Aristotle in his Physics defines graying as the process by which hair turns from dark to grey, furnishing some evidence that the Hellenes had usually a dark hair color. Similarly, in Sophocles’ Antigone (1092-3), the chorus of Theban elders mentions that their hair has become white while it was formerly black, suggesting that, like in Argos, the people of Thebes had dark hair in youth. The author of Aristotelis Physiognomica claims that both excessive paleness and excessive swarthiness are indicative of cowardice. Aristotle in the Eudemian Ethics mentions that “some men are blue eyed (glaukoi) and others black eyed (melanommatoi) because a particular part of them is of a particular quality” without assigning any moral superiority on either of the types. In the same passage, he continues that the blue-eyed man (glaukos) does not see clearly, an error which illustrates that he did not believe in a superiority of blue-eyed individuals. Indeed, the Greeks in general were somewhat repulsed by blue eyes, because of their rarity and association with disease (cataract and glaucoma), as [39], a complete study of all the uses of the adjective (glaukos) shows:
Instinctive fear of blindness must be very strong among all sighted human beings, so their immediate reaction to such an eye will manifest itself in a repulsive frisson. Men will wish to ward off a similar fate from themselves. Healthy eyes of that colour therefore have something unnatural about them, and their relative infrequence in Greece proper (and, indeed, in Crete), will have aroused a similar instinctive hostility. Fear of the unknown and of the unusual would contribute to the notion that possessors of such eyes must be malign; hence the long association of blue and the Evil Eye which has lasted in Greece and the surrounding area until modern times. Not surprisingly, these feelings of hostility would be strengthened by knowledge that foreigners from the cold North - those dangerous, incursive, un-Greek people - had blue eyes.
The author of Aristotle’s On Colours mentions that infants are born with light-colored hair but their hair turns to black as they grow up. Hence, unlike Nordics who retain (to some degree) the paedomorphic trait of blondness, Hellenes appear to possess mostly dark hair in adult life.

Greek Women: Girl from Ipati, Greece, circa 1930; Head of a female Lapith from the scene of the Battle of the Centaurs on the temple of Zeus at Olympia (Photos by Nelly’s, Benaki Museum); Minoan and modern Greek Woman
There are a number of references in the Greek authors in the practice of women dyeing their hair blond (e.g., in Euripides) or using artificial means (white lead) to lighten their complexion. This is taken by some as a pursuit of a “Nordic ideal.” When we read in Athenaeus’ Deipnosophists that:
Another woman has eyebrows too light: they paint them with lamp-black. Still another, as it happens, is too dark: she plasters herself over with white lead. One has a complexion too white: she rubs on rouge.
Are we to infer that lamp-black eyebrows are valued because of a “Nordic ideal?” Women have always lightened their hair because light hair is associated with youth among Caucasoid people, whose hair darkens in adult life. Indeed, the evidence suggests that Greeks were naturally dark-haired, otherwise they would not require hair lightening products. When Menander says (4th c.BC) speaks to an Athenian audience, saying that “the wise woman will not lighten her hair” is there any doubt that the practice was not seen favorably in that society? Similarly, Euripides (5th c. BC, Fr. 322) disparages hair lightening: “Eros is idle, and was born from idlers. It loves mirrors and dyeing hair [xanthismata], but avoids efforts.” And what of the use of the curling iron, as Nordics have relatively straighter hair than the people of Southern Europe and the Middle East? In this vein, one must remember that Aphrodite is described as xanthe in some authors, but is commonly depicted as brunette in Greek art, while Phryne, the famed courtesan whose beauty was renowned in antiquity, earned her nickname (phryne=toad [52]) from her dark complexion: the same Phryne chosen by Praxiteles as a model for a statue of the goddess.
Another argument proposed by Nordicists is that because the Greeks used the word iris, usually used for the rainbow, to describe the iris of the eye, it follows that they could not be a dark-eyed people. This argument fails for three reasons. First, light eyes are not uncommon in Greece at all. They are not the norm, but they are not unusual. Most Greeks have dark eyes, but a considerable number has mixed eye shades, while pure light eyes occur in varying frequency between 2 to 10% [10]. Second, the word iris was only introduced into the Greek language in the late 2nd c. AD (Julius Pollux Gramm., Onomasticon Bk 2 sect. 70 line 3). It is thus not a product of the early Greeks who supposedly saw light eyes all around them and named their irises after the rainbow. Third, the much earlier name for the iris of the eye was “the black” (to melan) according to Aristotle’s 4th c. BC testimony (Historia Animalium, 419b, 21).
Plato, in the Republic mentions that statues’ eyes should be painted black so that they will have the appearance of eyes, and not some exotic color. He continues that by painting eyes in proportion (i.e., black) and all other parts of the body in proportion, then the result is “beautiful.” Hence, it will appear that Plato did not find any fault with dark eyes, he believed them to be beautiful and proposed that statues be painted naturally, i.e., with black eyes.
Ion of Chios (5th c. BC) brings some examples of how poetic use of color terms (e.g. purple mouths, rosy fingers, etc.) differs from what is proper to the arts (in Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 13, 81). Significantly, he disusses Pindar's description of Apollo (Olympic 6) where the epithet chrusokoman (golden-haired) is applied, saying that “if the painter had made the god's hair golden and not black, the painting would be worse” Thus, it appears, that the image of the god of light as golden-haired was recognized as poetic, while a normal hair color (black) was used for depicting the god.
Similarly, the goddess Athena was described as having glaukoi (blue-grey) eyes. Pausanias, the travel writer who visited all Greece and describes its artworks and monuments in detail found a statue of Athena in a temple of Hephaestus near the Ceramicus which surprised him with its glaukoi eyes. He says of this statue (Graeciae descriptio, 1, 14) “I saw the statue of Athena having blue-gray eyes, according to the Libyan myth, according to them Athena is the daughter of Poseidon and the lake Tritonis.” Thus, Pausanias ascribes the light eye color of an unusual statue of Athena with light eyes to a foreign (Libyan) myth.
In the Republic, Plato presents direct evidence that blondness might be admired for its beauty, but “dark” [melanas] men are of manly aspect:
One, because his nose is tip tilted, you will praise as piquant, the beak of another you pronounce right royal, the intermediate type you say strikes the harmonious mean,the swarthy are of manly aspect, the white are children of the gods divinely fair, and as for honey hued, do you suppose the very word is anything but the euphemistic invention of some lover who can feel no distaste for sallowness when it accompanies the blooming time of youth?
From this passage it is clear that Plato (who was an Athenian aristocrat and belonged one of the more conservative Athenian families) once again iterates the doctrine of the Mean: The most beautiful ones are the possessors of straight noses (neither concave nor convex) and the possessors of honey-colored skin, neither too pale nor swarthy. Incidentally, the type he seems to prefer is indeed the Greek type par excellence, and the most common type in modern Hellas as well.
We summarize our conclusions:
  • Physical anthropology indicates racial continuity in Greece, with main Dinaric-Alpine-Mediterranean racial elements. Racial type of aristocrats, commoners and criminals is the same.
  • Greek literature furnishes evidence of brunet and fair individuals, as today, without ascribing any superiority to either type.
  • Greek art shows a predominance of brunet types, with a small minority of fair ones, rarely as fair as northern Europeans and with the same physique as their brunet counterparts.
  • Greek descriptions of themselves and others indicate that they were intermediate in pigmentation to northern and southern barbarians, as they are today.
(a) The Mediterranean type is characterized by dark hair and eyes, skin that tans easily, a long skull, a relatively narrow face and nose and a lean body build. This type is believed to be associated with the creators of the first civilizations in the Fertile Crescent of the Near East. It admits to many subtypes, due to its wide geographical range, from the Atlantic Ocean to the borders of India.
(b) Brachycephalic is used to denote people with broad, rather than long skulls. Its opposite is Dolichocephalic, while the intermediate is called Mesocephalic.
(c) The Alpine type is frequent in much of Central Europe and is found throughout the European continent and Western/Central Asia. Alpines have broad skulls, brown hair and eyes that are sometimes dark, sometimes light. Their face tends to be broad, and their body build more stocky than Mediterraneans.
(d) The Nordic type is common in Northern Europe. It is similar to the Mediterranean type in appearance, but has blonde straight hair, light eyes and a usually narrower face and a higher forehead. The inhabitants of Sweden and Holland are usually Nordic.
(e) The Dinaric type has a long face, long beaky nose and a short skull. It is thus, brachycephalic, but differs from the Alpine type in its facial form and also in its body build which is tall and lean.
(f) Day [44] alleges that Manzelli miscalculates and that yellow hair is actually 7% of the total. In either case, the figure is very low, and perhaps strikingly close to the 4-6% figure of “Nordic-like” individuals in modern Greece [10].
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Genetic structure of European Americans

Genetic structure of European Americans

NOTE: I inadvertetdly posted a draft of this post. Here is the final post; I will leave the draft online since some people already commented on it, before I noticed it.

A previous study on Europeans discovered that Caucasoid Europeans, who form a genetic cluster on a global scale can be further distinguished into subclusters that are correlated with ancestry and geography. Now, a new study on European Americans (hat tip gnxp) appearing in the free online journal PLoS Genetics has carried out a similar analysis of the genetic structure of American "Caucasians".

What I find fascinating about this new study is that an ethnic subgroup within American Caucasoids, namely Ashkenazi Jewish Americans can be distinguished at this point from other Caucasoids. Here is the clustering based on the validated set of markers from the paper:

The distinctiveness of Jewish Americans is probably due to their having a portion of Middle Eastern ancestry. We can only say that Jewish Americans are clearly genetically distinct from the other ethnic groups presented in the study, although it is unclear whether they are distinct from other groups of Middle Eastern background.

As biologically-averse intellectuals continue to question the very existence of race, pragmatic scientists are moving into an era when not only race, but ethnicity may become genetically identifiable.
Unlike race which by definition refers to an identifiable biological cluster, ethnicity may (or may not) refer to such a cluster.

Ethnic distinctiveness is due to both culture and biology, and the relative proportions of the two factors are specific to a particular ethnic group.

When ethnic groups have split recently, co-inhabit a geographical space, frequently intermarry, etc., then it is likely that they will have small biological differences, whereas other ethnic groups may be biologically as well as culturally distinct.

We should be careful to note that there are two levels of ethnic biological distinctiveness: group distinctiveness and individual distinctiveness:
Group distinctiveness means: if you are given the photographs of ten Englishmen on one side and ten Russians on the other, you would be able to decide with a very high level of success which group represented the Russians and which one the Englishmen.

Individual distinctiveness means: if you are given the photographs of ten Englishmen and ten Russians in random order, you would still be able to sort out the Russians from the Englishmen; whether this is possible, and with what level of success is less obvious than in the previous case.

We must wait for more studies with larger samples and more markers to study the biological component of human ethnicity. At present, some groups do seem to have individual distinctiveness in a particular societal context and with a particular set of markers (e.g., Jewish vs. non-Jewish Americans), while others are less distinct (e.g., Greek vs. Italian Americans).

population in Xinjiang


Origins of the Uighur

Interesting bit from the paper:
Notably, the distribution of admixture proportions among UIG individuals is relatively even, with 48.7% the lowest admixture from European ancestry and the highest 62.2%. The standard deviation is only 3.8%, which is much smaller than the estimation for the African-American (AfA) population,58 suggesting a much longer history of admixture events for the Uyghur population compared with the AfA population.

The American Journal of Human Genetics, doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2008.01.017

Analysis of Genomic Admixture in Uyghur and Its Implication in Mapping Strategy

Shuhua Xu et al.


The Uyghur (UIG) population, settled in Xinjiang, China, is a population presenting a typical admixture of Eastern and Western anthropometric traits. We dissected its genomic structure at population level, individual level, and chromosome level by using 20,177 SNPs spanning nearly the entire chromosome 21. Our results showed that UIG was formed by two-way admixture, with 60% European ancestry and 40% East Asian ancestry. Overall linkage disequilibrium (LD) in UIG was similar to that in its parental populations represented in East Asia and Europe with regard to common alleles, and UIG manifested elevation of LD only within 500 kb and at a level of 0.1 < style="font-weight: bold;">we estimated that the admixture event of UIG occurred about 126 [107∼146] generations ago, or 2520 [2140∼2920] years ago assuming 20 years per generation. In spite of the long history and short LD of Uyghur compared with recent admixture populations such as the African-American population, we suggest that mapping by admixture LD (MALD) is still applicable in the Uyghur population but ∼10-fold AIMs are necessary for a whole-genome scan.

Ancient mtDNA from Sampula population in Xinjiang

From the paper:
Physical anthropology of Shao et al. revealed that the ancient human bones from Sampula exhibited primarily Mongoloid characteristics with certain European features, but Han et al. believed that Sampula populations are mainly of European character and actually are close to that of the Eastern Mediterranean type.


In conclusion, the analysis of mtDNA haplogroup distribution showed that the ancient Sampula was a complex population of European and Asian, corresponding to the physical anthopology result of Shao et al.

Progress in Natural Science, Volume 17, Issue 8 August 2007 , pages 927 - 933

Mitochondrial DNA analysis of ancient Sampula population in Xinjiang

Chengzhi Xie et al.


The archaeological site fo Sampula cemetery was located about 14 km to the southwest of the Luo County in Xinjiang Khotan, China, belonging to the ancient Yutian kingdom. 14C analysis showed that this cemetery was used from 217 B.C. to 283 A. D. Ancient DNA was analysed by 364 bp of the mitochondrial DNA hypervariable region 1 (mtDNA HVR-1), and by six restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) sites of mtDNA coding region. We successfully extracted and sequenced intact stretches of maternally inherited mtDNA from 13 out of 16 ancient Sampula samples. The analysis of mtDNA haplogroup distribution showed that the ancient Sampula was a complex population with both European and Asian Characteristics. Median joining network of U3 sub-haplogroup and multi-dimensional scaling analysis all showed that the ancient Sampula had maternal relationship with Ossetian and Iranian.

How Turkish are the Anatolians?

How Turkish are the Anatolians? (new Alu insertion polymorphism study)

In my blog post How Turkish are the Anatolians, I estimated, based on Y chromosome frequencies the Central Asian Turkic contribution to the modern-day Anatolians.

Using the figure of 38.5%, the paternal contribution of Turks to the Anatolian population is estimated to about 11%. In lieu of the approximation, allowing for 33% relative error in either direction for both the true frequency of Mongoloid lineages in Anatolia and in early Turks, we obtain a range of 6-22%. It would thus appear that the Turkish element is a minority one in the composition of the Anatolians, but it is by no means negligible.
In a subsequent post on Non-Caucasoid admixture in Turks I estimated that the combined (bi-parental) contribution of Mongoloids in Turks:

Based on these numbers, the non-Caucasoid admixture in Turks can be quantified as 1.87% Negroid, and 6.18% Mongoloid, total 8.05%.
Given that Central Asians, including the likely Turkic ancestors of modern-day Turkish-speaking Anatolians are partly Mongoloid, this later estimate is compatible with a genetic contribution similar to that quoted above.

So, I was pleased to see a new study based on a different set of autosomal Alu insertion polymorphisms from a group of Turkish scientists that arrived at a similar estimate of the Central Asian admixture in Anatolians. So, it appears that about 1/8 of ancestry of Anatolians (equivalent to one great grandparent) came from a Central Asian Turk.

It is very refreshing to see a paper by Turkish scientists who acknowledge what exactly that other 7/8 of the Anatolians' ancestry actually consists of:
Before Seljuks, Anatolia was under the rule of Eastern Romans but was mainly inhabited by people of Greek origin for nearly two millennia (Toynbee, 1970). The process of change of language and religion by the Seljuks that is assimilation of the residents but not the invaders in Anatolia, was one of the puzzles of history (Toynbee, 1970). As the part of puzzle, estimation of the relative size of arriving nomads was the concern of many studies.

American Journal of Physical Anthropology (online early) 10.1002/ajpa.20772

Alu insertion polymorphisms and an assessment of the genetic contribution of Central Asia to Anatolia with respect to the Balkans

Ceren Caner Berkman et al.

In the evolutionary history of modern humans, Anatolia acted as a bridge between the Caucasus, the Near East, and Europe. Because of its geographical location, Anatolia was subject to migrations from multiple different regions throughout time. The last, well-known migration was the movement of Turkic speaking, nomadic groups from Central Asia. They invaded Anatolia and then the language of the region was gradually replaced by the Turkic language. In the present study, insertion frequencies of 10 Alu loci (A25 = 0.07, APO = 0.96, TPA25 = 0.44, ACE = 0.37, B65 = 0.57, PV92 = 0.18, FXIIIB = 0.52, D1 = 0.40, HS4.32 = 0.66, and HS4.69 = 0.30) have been determined in the Anatolian population. Together with the data compiled from other databases, the similarity of the Anatolian population to that of the Balkans and Central Asia has been visualized by multidimensional scaling method. Analysis suggested that, genetically, Anatolia is more closely related with the Balkan populations than to the Central Asian populations. Central Asian contribution to Anatolia with respect to the Balkans was quantified with an admixture analysis. Furthermore, the association between the Central Asian contribution and the language replacement episode was examined by comparative analysis of the Central Asian contribution to Anatolia, Azerbaijan (another Turkic speaking country) and their neighbors. In the present study, the Central Asian contribution to Anatolia was estimated as 13%. This was the lowest value among the populations analyzed. This observation may be explained by Anatolia having the lowest migrant/resident ratio at the time of migrations.

Global IQ: 1950–2050

Global IQ: 1950–2050

Global IQ

Chart: FOR 2010
Doesn't it seem like the world is getting dumber with every passing year? Well, maybe it is!
In IQ and the Wealth of Nations, Lynn and Vanhanen[1] report large differences, amounting to more than two standard deviations, in the mean IQ of the populations of different countries around the world, and find that these mean population IQ scores correlate more strongly with economic development as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and long term economic growth than any other single factor.
It has been widely observed that the birthrate of countries tends to fall as they become more wealthy. Most countries in Western Europe now have birthrates below the replacement rate; in the absence of immigration, their populations can be expected to fall in the future.
Putting these two pieces of information together, one might expect that since low IQ countries tend to be less wealthy, they should also be expected to have higher birthrates than countries with high IQ. If population IQ and wealth remain constant, the average IQ of the world should then fall over time, since a larger portion of population growth will occur in low IQ countries.
  Year     Population×109     Mean IQ  
1950 2.55 91.64
1975 4.08 90.80
2000 6.07 89.20
2025 7.82 87.81
2050 9.06 86.32
There are a lot of assumptions going into this conclusion, starting out with what IQ measures and what, if anything, it means. See the “Quarrels, Questions, and Answers” section below for discussion of some of these issues.
The animation above (you can view the chart for a given year by selecting it from the Chart box below the image) shows the global histogram of IQ and global mean IQ for the hundred year period from 1950 through 2050. Mean population IQ is taken from Lynn and Vanhanen's[1] figures and yearly population estimates for each country from the U.S. Census Bureau International Data Base 2003[3]. Taking these figures at face value, we find that world population and mean IQ evolve at 25 year intervals over the century as given in the table at the right.


The mean IQ of 185 countries, measured and estimated in Lynn and Vanhanen[1], were taken as the invariant IQ of each country over the 1950–2050 time period. (The figures are given in terms of countries existing as of the year 2000. For countries which came into being in the preceding 50 years due to decolonisation, breakup of the Soviet Union, etc., years prior to independence refer to the territory with borders identical to the present-day country. The list of countries includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, considered in some sense provinces of China, but with large populations, well measured demographically, and economic performance distinctly different from that of the People's Republic; and Puerto Rico, a United States territory with different demographics than the parent country. The remaining 182 countries include all independent countries with populations greater than 50,000 with the exception of Bosnia and Herzegovina, for which no data were available due to the conflict throughout most of the 1990s.)
The 100 year population history and forecast for the 185 countries with measured or estimated mean IQ was obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau International Data Base 2003[3], using the mid-year population estimate or projection for each year.
For each year in the hundred year period, each country's estimated population for that year was apportioned into bins of 5 IQ points using a normal distribution with the mean IQ for the country from Lynn and Vanhanen and the 15 point standard deviation defined for IQ scores. These country histogram bins were summed to create a global histogram for each year. Global mean IQ was computed by an average of country IQs weighted by their population.

Quarrels, Questions, and Answers

Don't differing IQ figures for various countries simply measure cultural bias in the tests?
This is a possibility, and in certain cases undoubtedly plays a factor. Yet tests carefully designed to exclude cultural bias (for example, spatial relationship tests based entirely on pictures, memorisation of digit sequences, and pure eye-hand reaction time) produce results comparable to those of traditional IQ tests. Further, if IQ tests embody cultural biases of the largely U.K. and U.S. creators of the tests, it's odd that populations of East Asian countries, with a variety of very different cultures, all test higher than those of the test makers.
Won't economic development reduce the rate of population growth in the low-IQ countries?
Future population estimates for countries in the Census Bureau database already take this into account. These are, of course, consensus estimates which do not take into effect such impossible-to-forecast circumstances as environmental crises, plague, bad asteroid days, or, on the other hand, technological breakthroughs which accelerate economic development in third world countries. Looking 50 years ahead, only rapid demographic shifts in the near term will have much impact on the figures for 2050, since the parents of adults of that year are already mostly alive today.
Lynn and Vanhanen only actually have IQ data for 81 countries and they've estimated the rest. How reliable are those estimates?
I don't know. In most cases their estimates were made by averaging known IQs of adjacent countries with similar demographic mix. In the few cases of countries with ethnically diverse populations, they estimated IQ based on a weighted average of IQs of the country of origin of each group. They tested this process by using it to estimate IQ of several countries with known IQ and the results correspond well with the measured IQs of those countries. Still, one should bear in mind that 56% of the country IQ figures are estimated, and not based on any actual in-country measurement at all.
And those 81 countries they have IQ data for—there seem to be an awful lot of fudge factors used in computing the numbers they cite in the tables. How trustworthy are they?
Fudge factors? Indeed…more than 25 pages are devoted to explaining the “adjustments”, “corrections”, “calibrations”, and “weightings” which go into that table of 81 numbers. The state of the raw data is more or less hideous. There is no regular, standardised measurement of IQ in nations of the world. One is forced to use sporadic studies, published at widely spaced intervals, using a variety of tests with more or less cultural bias, on populations which may exhibit a variety of selection effects. (For example, if you only test high school children in a country where 75% of children do not attend high school, you can't expect your results to be representative of the population as a whole.) Still, if you want to do this research, you have work with the data at hand. If population mean IQ indeed correlates strongly with economic performance, then measuring IQ figures for developing countries and studying ways to increase IQ could play an important rôle in development assistance. A UNESCO program to regularly measure IQ of, say, 16 year olds in all countries could provide hard data and, potentially, by permitting assessment of the effectiveness of programs such as nutrition aid for mothers and infants, educational initiatives, etc., do a world of good. Alas, this entire topic is so politically radioactive there is little likelihood of this ever happening.
You're assuming the mean IQ of countries won't change over the hundred year period. How valid is that assumption?
Apart from the Flynn effect (discussed below), which doesn't seem to have much effect on the relative IQs of countries, in cases where the data are available, national mean IQ does not seem to have varied much over the last 50 years. As long as the population makeup and general circumstances of a country don't change, it's reasonable to expect the mean IQ for a given country to remain much the same over the next 50 years. Population migration, however, can have substantial effects and is not taken into account in these data. The Census Bureau population estimates include migration, but the assumption of constant mean IQ may be invalid when the population of a given country consists of a large fraction of immigrants from regions with different mean IQ. This is particularly the case for Western Europe, where the indigenous population has fertility below the replacement rate, and the population includes an increasing proportion of immigrants predominantly from regions with lower mean IQ. To the extent immigrants have more children per family than the original population, the effect is magnified. Whether immigrant populations converge toward the original IQ of their new country as they assimilate is an open question. In all, since most present day and anticipated future population migration is from lower IQ to higher IQ countries, assuming constant IQ probably biases the global mean forecasts toward the high end.
Won't the Flynn effect compensate for the downward demographic shift in IQ?
The Flynn effect is an undisputed yet enigmatic aspect of IQ testing. Shortly after the first IQ tests were standardised, it was observed that the scores of those taking them tended to rise from year to year, as much as 15 points (one standard deviation) per generation. To maintain a mean score of 100 for the population on which IQ tests were standardised, test makers were forced to make their tests increasingly difficult over the years. In other words, to get the same IQ score as your father, you must perform equally well on a substantially tougher test than he took. If, for whatever reason, everybody were getting smarter, this would be wonderful news indeed. But a glance at the numbers shows that something very curious must be going on here. If IQ were, in fact, rising at a rate of 15 points per generation then, if the mean IQ of today is 100, that of our grandparents' generation would have been about 70—generally considered the threshold of mental retardation. Clearly, anybody who's spent time with their grandparents and other folks of that generation knows that's utter nonsense. The literature and music of a century or more ago is clearly not the work of marginally retarded minds, and its abundance indicates those who wrote it were not rare exceptions in a generally dull population. Consider genius in the past. Most people considered geniuses have IQs in the vicinity of 150, or 3 1/3 standard deviations above the mean IQ of 100. In a population with a mean IQ of 100, individuals with IQs of 150 occur with a frequency of about one in 2300 people—they're rare, but every medium-sized town has one or more, and even a small country with a population of one million has more than 425 such geniuses. Now, in a population with a mean IQ of 70, which naïve interpretation of the Flynn effect would deem our grandparents to have had, genius-level IQs of 150 would be 5 1/3 standard deviations above the mean and occur, on average, in only one out of 20,396,324 people. If we take the Flynn effect as 3 IQ points per decade, then we'd expect a mean IQ of 70 around the year 1900. In 1900, the world population was about 1.7 thousand million, which would imply there were only 80 people with genius-level IQs in the entire world of 1900. The merest glance at the history of that era will reveal how ridiculous a supposition this is. Adults, whatever their opinion may be of “what's the matter with kids today”, are most unlikely to cite “they're just too doggone smart!” So, the Flynn effect is a conundrum: a wide variety of tests which agree with one another and reliably predict outcomes we identify with “intelligence” all indicate that the general population is becoming more intelligent at an almost dizzying rate, while other evidence for this (for example, individuals with Einstein-calibre intelligence being almost 10,000 times more common than a hundred years ago) is notably absent. There is no shortage of hypotheses for what's going on, but little evidence to support any of them. Flynn himself believes that IQ tests measure test-taking and problem-solving ability, not genuine intelligence, and that this has risen over time as more and more children receive compulsory education and are subjected to ever more tests. Improved nutrition over the 20th century is often cited as a factor, as well as the introduction of egalitarian welfare state systems in developed countries tending to reduce poverty. But all of these are factors which one would expect to eventually reach a plateau, and that doesn't seem to have happened, at least so far. This isn't a document about the Flynn effect (although it risks becoming one unless I wind this up rather soon), and since no solution to this long-standing puzzle is at hand, one can only speculate on what it really means. Since correction for the Flynn effect is substantial in Lynn and Vanhanen's national IQ estimates, and can be expected to strongly influence IQ scores published in the future, it is essential one bear it in mind in any analysis of population intelligence trends.
IQ scores are normalised for a mean of 100 and standard deviation of 15 in the populations for which they were originally developed. Is the standard deviation the same in populations with higher or lower mean IQ?
I don't know. This is a fascinating question about which I have found no research whatsoever. Absent any information to the contrary, in computing the global IQ histogram in the charts at the top of this document, I assume a standard deviation of 15 points regardless of the mean. Note that this assumption only affects the shape of the histogram; the global mean is independent of the variance of individual country populations.




There are four core debates which permeate the study of nations and nationalism. First among these is the question of how to define the terms "nation" and "nationalism." Second, scholars argue about when nations first appeared. Academics have suggested a variety of time frames, including (but not limited to!) the following:
    •    Nationalists argue that nations are timeless phenomena. When man climbed out of the primordial slime, he immediately set about creating nations. 

    •    The next major school of thought is that of the perennialists who argue that nations have been around for a very long time, though they take different shapes at different points in history.

    •    While postmodernists and Marxists also play in the larger debates surrounding this topic, the modernization school is perhaps the most prevalent scholarly argument at the moment. These scholars see nations as entirely modern and constructed.
It should not be surprising that the third major debate centers on how nations and nationalism developed. If nations are naturally occurring, then there is little reason to explain the birth of nations. On the other hand, if one sees nations as constructed, then it is important to be able to explain why and how nations developed. Finally, many of the original "classic" texts on nationalism have focused on European nationalism at the expense of non-western experiences. This has sparked a debate about whether nationalism developed on its own in places like China, or whether it merely spread to non-western countries from Europe.
In this section of The Nationalism Project you will find a collection of quotations from prominent scholars of nationalism. Of course, individual quotations are not a substitute for reading the important books being cited, but I hope that you will find this resource a helpful introduction to the scholarly views of nations and nationalism.
NOTE: Benedict Anderson's book Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism first appeared in 1983. Since that time it has become one of the standard texts on the topic of nations and nationalism. The following definition is one of the most commonly used by scholars in the field.
"In an anthropological spirit, then, I propose the following definition of the nation: it is an imagined political community - - and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign.
"It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion. Renan referred to this imagining in his suavely back-handed way when he wrote that 'Or l’essence d'une nation est que tons les individus aient beaucoup de choses en commun, et aussi que tous aient oublié bien des choses.” With a certain ferocity Gellner makes a comparable point when he rules that 'Nationalism is not the awakening of nations to self-consciousness: it invents nations where they do not exist.' The drawback to this formulation, however, is that Gellner is so anxious to show that nationalism masquerades under false pretences that he assimilates 'invention' to 'fabrication' and 'falsity', rather than to 'imagining' and 'creation'. In this way he implies that 'true' communities exist which can be advantageously juxtaposed to nations. In fact, all communities larger than primordial villages of face-to-face contact (and perhaps even these) are imagined. Communities are to be distinguished, not by their falsity/genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined. Javanese villagers have always known that they are connected to people they have never seen, but these ties were once imagined particularistically-as indefinitely stretchable nets of kinship and clientship. Until quite recently, the Javanese language had no word meaning the abstraction 'society.' We may today think of the French aristocracy of the ancien régime as a class; but surely it was imagined this way only very late. To the question 'Who is the ‘Comte de X?’ the normal answer would have been, not 'a member of the aristocracy,' but 'the lord of X, 'the uncle of the Baronne de Y,'or 'a client of the Duc de Z.'
"The nation is imagined as limited because even the largest of them encompassing perhaps a billion living human beings, has finite, if elastic boundaries, beyond which lie other nations. No nation imagines itself coterminous with mankind. The most messianic nationalists do not dream of a day when all the members of the human race will join their nation in the way that it was possible, in certain epochs, for, say, Christians to dream of a wholly Christian planet.
"It is imagined as sovereign because the concept was born in an age in which Enlightenment and Revolution were destorying the legitamcy of the divinely-ordained, hierarchical dynastic realm. Coming to maturity at a stage of human history when even the most devout adherents of any universal religion were inescapably confronted with the living pluralism of such religions, and the allomorphism between each faith's ontological claims and territorial stretch, nations dream of being free, and, if under God, directly so. The gage and emblem of this freedom is the sovereign state.
"Finally, it is imagined as a community, because, regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship. Ultimately it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to die for such limited imaginings.
"These deaths bring us abruptly face to face with the central problem posed by nationalism: what makes the shrunken imaginings of recent history (scarcely more than two centuries) generate such colossal sacrifices? I believe that the beginnings of an answer lie in the cultural roots of nationalism."
Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Revised Edition ed. London and New York: Verso, 1991, pp. 5-7.
NOTE: Richard Handler is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Virginia. He is an expert on nationalism and politics in Quebec. His book, Nationalism and the Politics of Culture in Quebec, is an excellent study of the interplay between politics, culture, and nationalism.
"Nationalism is an ideology about individuated being. It is an ideology concerned with boundedness, continuity, and homogeneity encompassing diversity. It is an ideology in which social reality, conceived in terms of nationhood, is endowed with the reality of natural things.
"In principle the individuated being of a nation—its life, its reality—is defined by boundedness, continuity, and homogeneity encompassing diversity. In principle a nation is bounded—that is, precisely delimited—in space and time: in space, by the inviolability of its borders and the exclusive allegiance of its members; in time, by its birth or beginning in history. In principle the national entity is continuous: in time, by virtue of the uninterruptedness of its history; in space, by the integrity of the national territory. In principle national being is defined by a homogeneity which encompasses diversity: however individual members of the nation may differ, they share essential attributes that constitute their national identity; sameness overrides difference.
"In principle an individuated actor manifests his life through the exercise of choice, and through the consistent action that follows therefrom. Consistent action is both characteristic and rational: the nation acts in accord with its essence, and according to its needs.
"In principle the life of an individuated actor is celebrated through creativity, which is the imposition of one's choices on the physical and social world, and in proprietorship, which is the establishment of permanent bonds between self and the products resulting from creative activity. Nationalism is an ideology of what C. B. Macpherson (1962) called possessive individualism.
"It is customary in the literature on nations and ethnic nationalism to distinguish between "nation" and "state." A nation, it is said, is a human group that may or may not control its own state; while a state is a political organization that may or may not correspond to all of one, and only one, nation. It is customary to point out that there are many more nations or potential nations than states; that most nations aspire to statehood yet many have not and will not attain it; and that many states, federal or unitary, encompass more than one nation. It is only slightly less customary to point out that states have created nations perhaps more frequently that nations states; in the classic nation-states of Western Europe state-building bred national identity rather than simply following from it.
"It is much less customary to observe that our notions of "nation" and "state" imply similar senses of boundedness, continuity, and homogeneity encompassing diversity. The state is viewed as a rational, instrumental, power-concentrating organization. The nation is imagined to represent less calculating, more sentimental aspects of collective reality. Yet both are, in principle, integrated: well-organized and precisely delimited social organisms. And, in principle, the two coincide.
"The nationalist desire for an integrated nation-state can be compared to the overriding concern of social scientists to speak about and privilege integrated social units of whatever level of complexity. Here I intentionally correlate actors'desires and observers' epistemology. The presuppositions concerning boundedness that dominate nationalist discourse equally dominate our social-scientific discourse, which takes discrete social entities, such as "societies" and "cultures," as the normal units of analysis, and the "integration" of such units as the normal and healthy state of social life.
"Of course, everyone knows that social life is not neatly integrated: the boundaries of nations, states, societies, and cultures are permeable and even vague. Yet to recognize (and then rationalize) "fuzzy boundaries" does not fundamentally question the epistemology of "entitivity" (Cohen 1978) upon which the notion of boundedness depends. In the study of nationalism and ethnicity the characteristic ploy used to get round the fuzzy-boundaries problem is to posit a distinction between objective and subjective groups. A human group, it is argued, can be bounded by attributes or characteristics that each of its members "possesses." This is objective boundedness, though what is objectively shared may be subjective states of mind of the group members -characteristic modes of thought and affect that lead to characteristic actions and social organizations. Objective boundedness means that the group actually exists as a group, and can be shown to exist by an external observer. Subjective boundedness is the sense that group members themselves have of forming a group; that is, national or ethnic self-consciousness. It is customary to point out that an objectively existent group may not be subjectively self-conscious, and that nations and nationalisms become possible only after the emergence of group self-consousness. It is only slightly less customary to point out that the actors' sense of group integration may be grounded in an illusion and that their perception of sameness may obscure important objective differences among group members. In the face of the continued emergence of evidence of such differences-and of mal- or dis-integration, permeableness, and vagueness of boundaries—many scholars of nationalism and ethnicity have de-emphasized the objective reality of groups and insisted instead on subjective boundedness as the sine qua non of collective existence. Proponents of this position argue that whatever the degree of objective boundedness, it is only the subjective perception (or delusion) of identity that launches a group on its career of collective action. The perception of group identity may even be sufficient to overcome large objective differences and bring a national entity into historical existence.
"This appeal to the subjective basis of group unity respects the entitivity assumptions-boundedness, continuity, homogeneity that both nationalists and social scientists presuppose in their discussions of the reality of nations. The reality that may be denied by a lack of shared objective traits is reestablished by the subjective sharing of a sense of identity, and the nation or ethnic group can again be proclaimed to exist. Once again we find a close congruence between actors' ideologies and observers' theories: the "common will to live together" that nationalists see as the necessary capstone to the list of objective traits which form a national entity becomes "group identity" in the jargon of social scientists."
Handler, Richard. Nationalism and the Politics of Culture in Quebec. New Directions in Antropoligical Writing: History, Poetics, Cultural Criticism, ed. George E.; Clifford Marcus, James. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1988, pp. 6-8.
NOTE: Ernest Gellner was one of the most important scholars of nationalism. His book, Nations and Nationalism (1983) remains one of the most important books in the field.
"In fact, nations, like states, are a contingency, and not a universal necessity. Neither nations nor states exist at all times and in all circumstances. Moreover, nations and states are not the same contingency. Nationalism holds that they were destined for each other; that either without the other is incomplete, and constitutes a tragedy. But before they could become intended for each other, each of them had to emerge, and their emergence was independent and contingent. The state has certainly emerged without the help of the nation. Some nations have certainly emerged without the blessings of their own state. It is more debatable whether the normative idea of the nation, in its modern sense, did not presuppose the prior existence of the state.
"What then is this contingent, but in our age seemingly universal and normative, idea of the nation? Discussion of two very makeshift, temporary definitions will help to pinpoint this elusive concept.
    1.    "Two men are of the same nation if and only if they share the same culture, where culture in turn means a system of ideas and signs and associations and ways of behaving and communicating.
    2.    "Two men are of the same nation if and only if they recognize each other as belonging to the same nation. In other words, nations maketh man; nations are the artefacts of men's convictions and loyalties and solidarities. A mere category of persons (say, occupants of a given territory, or speakers of a given language, for example) becomes a nation if and when the members of the category firmly recognize certain mutual rights and duties to each other in virtue of their shared membership of it. It is their recognition of each other as fellows of this kind which turns them into a nation, and not the other shared attributes, whatever they might be, which separate that category from non- members.
"Each of these provisional definitions, the cultural and the voluntaristic, has some merit. Each of them singles out an element which is of real importance in the understanding of nationalism. But neither is adequate. Definitions of culture, presupposed by the first definition, in the anthropological rather than the normative sense, are notoriously difficult and unsatisfactory. It is probably best to approach this problem by using this term without attempting too much in the way of formal definition, and looking at what culture does."
Gellner, Ernest. Nations and Nationalism. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983, pp. 6-7.
NOTE: John Breuilly's book Nationalism and the State is a classic discussion of the politics of nationalism in a comparative and historical perspective.
"The term 'nationalism' is used to refer to political movements seeking or exercising state power and justifying such actions with nationalist arguments.
"A nationalist argument is a political doctrine built upon three basic assertions:
    1.    There exists a nation with an explicit and peculiar character.
    2.    The interests and values of this nation take priority over all other interests and values.
    3.    The nation must be as independent as possible. This usually requires at least the attainment of political sovereignity." (p.3).

"So the definition employed here can avoid the danger of being too vague and all-embracing and, among other things, draws attention to the modernity of nationalism.
"The definition also excludes from consideration political movements which demand independence on the basis of universal principles. The term 'nationhood' is often used to describe the achievement of such independence, as, for example, the creation of the United States of America. But the leaders of the independence movement did not refer to a cultural identity to justify their claims. They demanded equality and, failing that, independence, and justified the demand by an appeal to universal human rights. Parts of North America were simply the areas in which these rights were being asserted. Admittedly a sense of national identity developed after the achievement of independence but by then nationalism had a rather different and less distinctive function." (pp. 6-7).
"These general remarks have served to define and narrow down the area of investigation. I am concerned with significant political movements, principally of opposition, which seek to gain or exercise state power and justify their objectives in terms of nationalist doctrine. This still covers a large number of political movements and it is necessary to subdivide them. To do so one requires some principle of classification.
"Classifications are simply sets of interrelated definitions. Utility is their justification. There are numerous ways of classifying nationalism....
"The concern here is with nationalism as a form of politics, primarily opposition politics. This suggests that the principle of classification should be based on the relationship between the nationalist movement and the existing state. Very broadly, a nationalist opposition can stand in one of three relationships to the existing state. It can seek to break away from it, to take it over and reform it, or to unite it with other states. I call these objectives separation, reform and unification.
"In addition the state to which such a nationalist movement is opposed may or may not define itself as a nation-state. If it does, conflict may arise between governmental and opposition nationalisms, conflict which cannot occur when the state does not define itself as a nation-state. The position of a nationalist opposition having to counter governmental nationalism is fundamentally different from that of one which does not.
"These distinctions yield six classes, which are set out here with examples for each class:
(Opposed to) Non-nation states (a)----(Opposed to) Nation states (1)
Separation:  Magyar, Greek, Nigerian---- Basque, lbo
Reform: Turkish, Japanese ---- Fascism, National Socialism
Unification: German, Italian ---- Arab, Pan-African
"(a) A rather clumsy term but I can think of nothing better" (pp. 11-12).
 1) EDITOR'S NOTE: The bracketed text was added in the Second Edition of Breuilly's text (1992). I have included it here in the hope that it will make the author's distinctions a little more clear. The remainder of the text quoted here is drawn from the 1985 edition.
Breuilly, John. Nationalism and the State. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985.
NOTE: Miroslav Hroch is a important Czech political theorist. The essay cited from here offers an important definition of "nation."
"Now the 'nation is not, of course, an eternal category, but was the product of a long and complicated process of historical development in Europe. For our purposes, let us define it at the outset as a large social group integrated not by one but by a combination of several kinds of objective relationships (economic, political, linguistic, cultural, religious, geographical, historical), and their subjective reflection in collective consciousness. Many of these ties could be mutually substituable - some playing a particularly important role in one nation-building process, and no more than a subidiary part in others. But among them, three stand out as irreplaceable: (1) a 'memory' of some common past, treated as a 'destiny' of the group - or at least of its core constituents; (2) a density of linguistic or cultural ties enabling a higher degree of social communication within the group than beyond it; (3) a conception of the equality of all members of the group organized as a civil society."
Hroch, Miroslav. "From National Movement to the Fully-formed Nation: The Nation-building Process in Europe," in Balakrishnan, Gopal, ed. Mapping the Nation. New York and London: Verso, 1996: pp. 78-97. See especially p. 79.
NOTE: Ernest Renan (1823-1892) was an important French theorist who wrote about a variety of topics. His famous essay "What is a Nation?" (Qu'est-ce qu'une nation?) was first delivered as a lecture at the Sorbonne in 1882. It continues to be an important influence on scholars. One can see Renan's influence in the scholarship of people like Benedict Anderson.
A nation is a soul, a spiritual principle. Two things, which in truth are but one, constitute this soul or spiritual principle. One lies in the past, one in the present. One is the possession in common of a rich legacy of memories; the other is present- day consent, the desire to live together, the will to perpetuate the value of the heritage that one has received in an undivided form. Man, Gentlemen, does not improvise. The nation, like the individual, is the culmination of a long past of endeavours, sacrifice, and devotion. Of all cults, that of the ancestors is the most legitimate, for the ancestors have made us what we are. A heroic past, great men, glory (by which I understand genuine glory), this is the social capital upon which one bases a national idea. To have common glories in the past and to have a common will in the present; to have performed great deeds together, to wish to perform still more-these are the essential conditions for being a people. One loves in proportion to the sacrifices to which one has consented, and in proportion to the ills that one has suffered. One loves the house that one has built and that one has handed down. The Spartan song-"We are what you were; we will be what you are" -- is, in its simplicity, the abridged hymn of every patrie.
More valuable by far than common customs posts and frontiers conforming to strategic ideas is the fact of sharing, in the past, a glorious heritage and regrets, and of having, in the future, [a shared] programme to put into effect, or the fact of having suffered, enjoyed, and hoped together. These are the kinds of things that can be understood in spite of differences of race and language. I spoke just now of "having suffered together" and, indeed, suffering in common unifies more than joy does. Where national memories are concerned, griefs are of more value than triumphs, for they impose duties, and require a common effort.
A nation is therefore a large-scale solidarity, constituted by the feeling of the sacrifices that one has made in the past and of those that one is prepared to make in the future. It presupposes a past; it is summarized, however, in the present by a tangible fact, namely, consent, the clearly expressed desire to continue a common life. A nation's existence is, if you will pardon the metaphor, a daily plebiscite, just as an individual's existence is a perpetual affirmation of life. That, I know full well, is less metaphysical than divine right and less brutal than so called historical right. According to the ideas that I am outlining to you, a nation has no more right than a king does to say to a province: "You belong to me, I am seizing you." A province, as far as I am concerned, is its inhabitants; if anyone has the right to be consulted in such an affair, it is the inbabitant. A nation never has any real interest in annexing or holding on to a country against its will. The wish of nations is, all in all, the sole legitimate criterion, the one to which one must always return.
We have driven metaphysical and theological abstractions out of politics. What then remains? Man, with his desires and his needs. The secession, you will say to me, and, in the long term, the disintegration of nations will be the outcome of a system which places these old organisms at the mercy of wills which are often none too enlightened. It is clear that, in such matters, no principle must be pushed too far. Truths of this order are only applicable as a whole in a very general fashion. Human wills change, but what is there here below that does not change? The nations are not something eternal. They had their beginnings and they will end. A European confederation will very probably replace them. But such is not the law of the century in which we are living. At the present time, the existence of nations is a good thing, a necessity even. Their existence is the guarantee of liberty, which would be lost if the world had only one law and only one master.
Through their various and often opposed powers, nations participate in the common work of civilization; each sounds a note in the great concert of humanity, which, after all, is the highest ideal reality that we are capable of attaining. Isolated, each has its weak point. I often tell myself that an individual who had those faults which in nations are taken for good qualities, who fed off vainglory, who was to that degree jealous, egotistical, and quarrelsome, and who would draw his sword on the smallest pretext, would be the most intolerable of men. Yet all these discordant details disappear in the overall context. Poor humanity, how you have suffered! How many trials still await you! May the spirit of wisdom guide you, in order to preserve you from the countless dangers with which your path is strewn!
Let me sum up, Gentlemen. Man is a slave neither of his race nor his language, nor of his religion, nor of the course of rivers nor of the direction taken by mountain chains. A large aggregate of men, healthy in mind and warm of heart, creates the kind of moral conscience which we call a nation. So long as this moral consciousness gives proof of its strength by the sacrifices which demand the abdication of the individual to the advantage of the community, it is legitimate and has the right to exist. If doubts arise regarding its frontiers, consult the populations in the areas under dispute. They undoubtedly have the right to a say in the matter. This recommendation will bring a smile to the lips of the transcendants of politics, these infallible beings who spend their lives deceiving themselves and who, from the height of their superior principles, take pity upon our mundane concerns. "Consult the populations, for heaven's sake! How naive! A fine example of those wretched French ideas which claim to replace diplomacy and war by childishly simple methods." Wait a while, Gentlemen; let the reign of the transcendants pass; bear the scorn of the powerful with patience. It may be that, after many fruitless gropings, people will revert to our more modest empirical solutions. The best way of being right in the future is, in certain periods, to know how to resign oneself to being out of fashion.
Renan, Ernest. "What is a Nation?" in Eley, Geoff and Suny, Ronald Grigor, ed. 1996. Becoming National: A Reader. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996: pp. 41-55. See especially pp. 52-54.
NOTE: Michael Billig suggests that nationalism is more than just a set of ideas expressed of separatists. Instead, Billig argues that nationalism is omnipresent - often unexpressed, but always ready to be mobilized in the wake of catalytic events.
"... there is something misleading about this accepted use of the word ‘nationalism’. It always seems to locate nationalism on the periphery. Separatists are often to be found in the outer regions of states; the extremists lurk on the margins of political life in established democracies, usually shunned by the sensible politicians of the centre. The guerrilla figures, seeking to establish their new homelands, operate in conditions where existing structures of state have collapsed, typically at a distance from the established centres of the West. From the perspective of Paris, peripherally placed on the edge of Europe. All these factors combine to make nationalism not merely an exotic force, but a peripheral one. In consequence, those in established nations – at the centre of things – are led to see nationalism as the property of others, not of ‘us’.
"This is where the accepted view becomes misleading: it overlooks the nationalism of the West’s nation-states. In a world of nation-states, nationalism cannot be confined to the peripheries. That might be conceded, but still it might be objected that nationalism only strikes the established nation-states on special occasions. Crises, such as the Falklands or Gulf Wars, infect a sore spot, causing bodily fevers: the symptoms are an inflamed rhetoric and an outbreak of ensigns. But the irruption soon dies down; the temperature passes; the flags are rolled up; and, then, it is business as usual." (p. 5)

"... the term banal nationalism is introduced to cover the ideological habits which enable the established nations of the West to be reproduced. It is argued that these habits are not removed from everyday life, as some observers have supposed. Daily, the nation is indicated, or ‘flagged’, in the lives of its citizenry. Nationalism, far from being an intermittent mood in established nations, is the endemic condition." (p.6)

"The central thesis of the present book is that, in the established nations, there is a continual ‘flagging’, or reminding, of nationhood. The established nations are those states that have confidence in their own continuity, and that, particularly, are part of what is conventionally described as ‘the West’. The political leaders of such nations – whether France, the USA, the United Kingdom or New Zealand – are not typically termed ‘nationalists’. However, as will be suggested, nationhood provides a continual background for their political discourses, for cultural products, and even for the structuring of newspapers. In so many little ways, the citizenry are daily reminded of their national place in a world of nations. However, this reminding is so familiar, so continual, that it is not consciously registered as reminding. The metonymic image of banal nationalism is not a flag which is being consciously waved with fervent passion; it is the flag hanging unnoticed on the public building.
"National identity embraces all these forgotten reminders. Consequently, an identity is to be found in the embodied habits of social life. Such habits include those of thinking and using language. To have a national identity is to possess ways of talking about nationhood. As a number of critical social psychologists have been emphasizing, the social psychological study of identity should involve the detailed study of discourse…. Having a national identity also involves being situated physically, legally, socially, as well as emotionally: typically, it means being situated within a homeland, which itself is situated within the world of nations. And, only if people believe that they have national identities, will such homelands, and the world of national homelands, be reproduced.
"In many ways, this book itself aims to be a reminder. Because the concept of nationalism has been restricted to exotic and passionate exemplars, the routine and familiar forms of nationalism have been overlooked. In this case, ‘our’ daily nationalism slips from attention. There is a growing body of opinion that nation-states are declining. Nationalism, or so it is said, is no longer a major force: globalization is the order of the day. But a reminder is necessary. Nationhood is still being reproduced: it can still call for ultimate sacrifices; and, daily, its symbols and assumptions are flagged." (pp.8-9)
Billig, Michael. Banal Nationalism. London: Sage Publications, 1995.
NOTE: Michael Hechter is one of the world's formost sociologists of nationalism. He currently teaches at the University of Washington and serves on The Nationalism Project's advisory committee. His books include Internal Colonialism (1975, 1999) and Containing Nationalism (2000). Containing Nationalism offers a unified explanation of the dynamics of nationalism across the broad sweep of time and space. Among other things, it explains why nationalism is largely confined to modern history, why it is supported by specific forms of inequality between cultural groups, and why it is inclusive at some times and exclusive at others. The section quoted here offers a typology of nationalisms.
"It is widely appreciated that there are important differences between nationalist movements. Much effort has been made to create typologies that aim to capture some of the relevant distinctions (see, for example, Hall 1993). Most of these distinguish the liberal, culturally inclusive (Sleeping Beauty) nationalisms characteristic of Western Europe from the illiberal, culturally exclusive (Frankenstein's monster) nationalisms more often found elsewhere. Whereas these normative differences between nationalist movements have been enormously important in history, it is doubtful that they can be explained if the dimensions of nationalism are chosen on normative grounds. To explain why nationalism has taken such different forms in different societies, it is better to seek a typology that is derived from analytical considerations.
"If nationalism is collective action designed to render the boundaries of the nation congruent with those of its governance unit, then a simple analytic typology of nationalism flows directly out of this definition. Further, this typology helps account for the normative differences between types of nationalism.
"State-building nationalism is the nationalism that is embodied in the attempt to assimilate or incorporate culturally distinctive territories in a given state. It is the result of the conscious efforts of central rulers to make a multicultural population culturally homogeneous. Thus, beginning in the sixteenth century and continuing into the twentieth, the rulers of England and France attempted fitfully perhaps, and with more or less success-to foster homogeneity in their realms by inducing culturally distinctive populations in each country's Celtic regions to assimilate to their own culture. Since the rationale for state-building nationalism is often geopolitical - to secure borders from real or potential rivals - this kind of nationalism tends to be culturally inclusive. However, much less liberal means of skinning a culturally homogeneous cat have been resorted to in history, as well. Central rulers of a given culture also can unify their country by expelling culturally alien populations (as in the Spanish Reconquista), or by exterminating them (often the fate of the indigenous peoples of North America).
"Peripheral nationalism occurs when a culturally distinctive territory resists incorporation into an expanding state, or attempts to secede and set up its own government (as in Quebec, Scotland and Catalonia). Often this type of nationalism is spurred by the the very efforts of state-building nationalism described above.
"Irredentist nationalism occurs with the attempt to extend the existing boundaries of a state by incorporating territories of an adjacent state occupied principally by co-nationals (as in the case of the Sudeten Germans).
"Finally, unification nationalism involves the merger of a politically divided but culturally homogeneous territory into one state, as famously occurred in nineteenth-century Germany and Italy. In this case, the effort to render cultural and governance boundaries congruent requires the establishment of a new state encompassing the members of the nation. Whereas state-building nationalism tends to be culturally inclusive, unification nationalism is often culturally exclusive.
"Although patriotism - the desire to raise the prestige and power of one's own nation state relative to rivals in the international system - is often considered to be nationalistic, the present definition rules this usage out. Patriotism is no form of nationalism at all, for here the boundaries of the nation and governance unit are already congruent. This limitation is not, however, very damaging. Since few states, if any, qualify as nation states, patriotism (as defined in this book) hardly exists. Most of what passes as patriotism in common parlance implicitly advances the interests of one nation at the expense of others in multinational states. In the present framework, such activities are instances of state-building nationalism.
"The preceding typology is not exhaustive. It has no place for nationalist movements - like Zionism and Mormonism - that resulted from the migration of religious groups to distant promised lands. Such movements have been exceedingly rare, however..."
Hechter, Michael. Containing Nationalism. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. See pages 15-17.

NOTE: Ernest Gellner was one of the most important scholars of nationalism. His book, Nations and Nationalism (1983) remains one of the most important books in the field. The quote included here is from the Warwick Debate which was held 24 October 1995. This was an exchange between Gellner and his former student Anthony D. Smith. It was Gellner's final comment on nationalism before his death on 5 November 1995. The entire text of the Warwick Debate is available online at: http://www.lse.ac.uk/Depts/Government/gellner/Warwick0.html.

"The question I'm going to now address myself to of course is: do nations have navels or not? Now the point about Adam's navel of course is not as simple as you might think. It's perfectly possible to imagine a navel-less Adam because navels, once they were engendered by the original process by which they were engendered, perform no further function. I mean you could live navel-less and there is no problem. Now on the other hand there are other aspects of a human organism, supposing creation did occur at a definite date and mankind was suddenly created, which are rather navel-like but which would have to be there anyway in a kind of misleading way. There are all kinds of rhythms; I'm not a physiologist, but there are all kinds of rhythms about one's breathing, about one's digestion, about one's blood-beat, which come in cycles and the cycle has to be continuous. So even if Adam was created at a given date, his blood circulation or his food consumption or his breathing would have to be in a condition such that he'd been going through these cycles anyway, even though he hadn't been, because he had just been created. For instance, I imagine his digestive tract wouldn't function unless it had some sort of content so that he would have signs of a meal, remnants of a meal which in fact he had never had because he had only just been created.
"Now it's the same with nations. How important are these cyclical processes? My main case for modernism that I'm trying to highlight in this debate, is that on the whole the ethnic, the cultural national community, which is such an important part of Anthony's case, is rather like the navel. Some nations have it and some don't and in any case it's inessential. What in a way Anthony is saying is that he is anti-creationist and we have this plethora of navels and they are essential, as he said, and this I think is the crux of the issue between him and me. He says modernism only tells half the story. Well if it tells half the story, that for me is enough, because it means that the additional bits of the story in the other half are redundant. He may not have meant it this way but if the modernist theory accounts for half of 60 per cent or 40 per cent or 30 per cent of the nations this is good for me. There are very, very clear cases of modernism in a sense being true. I mean, take the Estonians. At the beginning of the nineteenth century they didn't even have a name for themselves. They were just referred to as people who lived on the land as opposed to German or Swedish burghers and aristocrats and Russian administrators. They had no ethnonym. They were just a category without any ethnic self-consciousness. Since then they've been brilliantly successful in creating a vibrant culture.(3) This is obviously very much alive in the Ethnographic Museum in Tartu, which has one object for every ten Estonians and there are only a million of them. (The Museum has a collection of 100,000 ethnographic objects). Estonian culture is obviously in no danger although they make a fuss about the Russian minority they've inherited from the Soviet system. It's a very vital and vibrant culture, but, it was created by the kind of modernist process which I then generalise for nationalism and nations in general. And if that kind of account is accepted for some, then the exceptions which are credited to other nations are redundant.
"The central fact seems to me that what has really happened in the modern world is that the role of culture in human life was totally transformed by that cluster of economic and scientific changes which have transformed the world since the seventeenth century. The prime role of culture in agrarian society was to underwrite peoples status and peoples identity. Its role was really to embed their position in a complex, usually hierarchical and relatively stable structure. The world as it is now is one where people have no stable position or structure. They are members of ephemeral professional bureaucracies which are not deeply internalised and which are temporary. They are members of increasingly loose family associations. What really matters is their incorporation and their mastery of high culture; I mean a literate codified culture which permits context-free communication. Their membership of such a community and their accept- ability in it, that is a nation. It is the consequence of the mobility and anonymity of modern society and of the semantic non-physical nature of work that mastery of such culture and acceptability in it is the most valuable possession a man has. It is a precondition of all other privileges and participation. This automatically makes him into a nationalist because if there is non-congruence between the culture in which he is operating and the culture of the surrounding economic, political and educational bureau- cracies, then he is in trouble. He and his off-spring are exposed to sustained humiliation. Moreover, the maintenance of the kind of high culture, the kind of medium in which society operates, is politically precarious and expensive. It is linked to the state as a protector and usually the financier or at the very least the quality controller of the educational process which makes people members of this kind of culture. This is the theory."
Gellner, Ernest and Anthony D. Smith. "The nation: real or imagined?: The Warwick Debates on Nationalism." Nations and Nationalism 2, no. 3 (1996): 357-370. See pages 367-368.
NOTE: Anthony D. Smith is one of most important contemporary scholars of nationalism. He is Editor-in-Chief of the scholarly journal Nations and Nationalism (Cambridge University Press) and is the author of many books on the subject including his "classic" The Ethnic Origins of Nations.
"Perhaps the central question in our understanding of nationalism is the role of the past in the creation of the present. This is certainly the area in which there have been the sharpest divisions between theorists of nationalism. Nationalists, perennialists, modernists and post-modernists have presented us with very different interpretations of that role. The manner in which they have viewed the place of ethnic history has largely determined their understanding of nations and nationalism today.
"For nationalists themselves, the role of the past is clear and unproblematic. The nation was always there, indeed it is part of the natural order, even when it was submerged in the hearts of its members. The task of the nationalist is simply to remind his or her compatriots of their glorious past, so that they can recreate and relive those glories.
"For perennialists, too, the nation is immemorial. National forms may change and particular nations may dissolve, but the identity of a nation is unchanging. Yet the nation is not part of any natural order, so one can choose one's nation, and later generations can build something new on their ancient ethnic foundations. The task of nationalism is to rediscover and appropriate a submerged past in order the better to build on it.
"For the modernist, in contrast, the past is largely irrelevant. The nation is a modern phenomenon, the product of nationalist ideologies, which themselves are the expression of modern, industrial society. The nationalist is free to use ethnic heritages, but nation-building can proceed without the aid of an ethnic past. Hence, nations are phenomena of a particular stage of history, and embedded in purely modern conditions.
"For the post-modernist, the past is more problematic. Though nations are modern and the product of modern cultural conditions, nationalists who want to disseminate the concept of the nation will make liberal use of elements from the ethnic past, where they appear to answer to present needs and preoccupations. The present creates the past in its own image. So modem nationalist intellectuals will freely select, invent and mix traditions in their quest for the imagined political community.
"None of these formulations seems to be satisfactory. History is no sweetshop in which its children may 'pick and mix'; but neither is it an unchanging essence or succession of superimposed strata. Nor can history be simply disregarded, as more than one nationalism has found to its cost. The challenge for scholars as well as nations is to represent the relationship of ethnic past to modem nation more accurately and convincingly.
"... nationalists have a vital role to play in the construction of nations, not as culinary artists or social engineers, but as political archaeologists rediscovering and reinterpreting the communal past in order to regenerate the community. Their task is indeed selective - they forget as well as remember the past - but to succeed in their task they must meet certain criteria. Their interpretations must be consonant not only with the ideological demands of nationalism, but also with the scientific evidence, popular resonance and patterning of particular ethnohistories. Episodes like the recovery of Hatsor and Masada, of the tomb of Tutankhamun, the legends of the Kalevala, and the ruins of Teotihuacan, have met these criteria and in different ways have come to underpin and define the sense of modern nationality in Israel, Egypt, Finland and Mexico. Yigal Yadin, Howard Carter, Elias Lonnrot and Manuel Gamio form essential links in the complex relationship between an active national present and an often ancient ethnic heritage, between the defining ethnic past and its modern nationalist authenticators and appropriators. In this continually renewed two-way relationship between ethnic past and nationalist present lies the secret of the nation's explosive energy and the awful power it exerts over its members."
Smith, Anthony D. "Gastronomy or geology? The role of nationalism in the reconstruction of nations." Nations and Nationalism 1, no. 1 (1994): 3-23. See pages 18-19.
NOTE: Liah Greenfeld is the author of Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity—an important, if controversial, book—which attempts to explain the increasing violence of nationalism by offering the model summarized below.
"I shall very briefly recapitulate certain parts of the argument I made in Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity. The inventors of nationalism were members of the new Tudor aristocracy in England in the sixteenth century. Upwardly mobile commoners who reached the top of the social ladder, they found unacceptable the traditional image of society in which social mobility was an anomaly and substituted a new image for it, that of a nation as it came to be understood in modern times. Before this happened, the word "nation" meant something entirely different; it referred to a political and cultural elite, rather than to a society as a whole. Tudor aristocrats, however, made the "nation" synonymous with the English "people," a concept which previously-in English as in other languages referred specifically to the lower orders of society, the commons (or worse: the rabble or plebs), as members of which so many of the new aristocrats were born. As a result of this redefinition, every member of the people was elevated to the dignity of the elite becoming, in principle, equal to any other member, as well as free, in vested with the right of self-government, or, in other words, sovereignty, and the people or the nation collectively was, in turn, defined as sovereign.
"It is important to recognize that the sovereignty of the nation was, in this case, derived from the assumed sovereignties of each member in the national collectivity. The nation was defined as a composite entity existing only insofar as its members kept the social compact and had neither interests nor will separate from the individual interests and wills of these members. This original nationalism, therefore, was essentially individualistic (which, it should be noted, in no way prevented it from serving as a very firm foundation for social solidarity). It was also civic in the sense that national identity-nationality-was in effect identical with citizenship, and since the nation existed only insofar as its members kept the social compact, could be in principle acquired or abandoned of one's free will.
"The principles of this original individualistic and civic nationalism, the location of sovereignty within a people defined as a social compact of free and equal individuals, are the fundamental tenets of liberal democracy, which is considered the essential characteristic of a Western society. This type of nationalism, however, though historically first, is the rarest type of all. Much more often a nation is defined not as a composite entity but as a collective individual, endowed with a will and interest of its own, which are independent of and take priority over the wills and interests of human individuals within the nation. Such a definition of the nation results in collectivistic nationalism. Collectivistic nationalisms tend to be authoritarian and imply a fundamental in equality between a small group of self-appointed interpreters of the will of the nation-the leaders-and the masses, who have to adapt to the elite's interpretations. Collectivistic nationalisms thus favor the political culture of populist democracy or socialism, and as such furnish the ideological bases of modern tyrannies.
"Collective nationalisms can be civic. French nationalism is a nationalism of a collectivistic and civic type, which was historically the second type of nationalism to evolve. The civic criteria of national membership acknowledge the freedom of the individual members, which the collectivistic definition of the nation denies. Collectivistic and civic nationalism is therefore an ambivalent, problematic type, necessarily plagued by internal contradictions. The turbulent political history of the French nation is eloquent testimony to these contradictions. Few would doubt the West European and simply Western identity of France, and yet it is interesting that French nationalism began as an anti-English-and by derivation anti- Western -sentiment. France, therefore, at least in the days of its national infancy, could be seen as the first anti-Western nation.
"The purely anti-Western (and thus Eastern?) type of nationalism, however, was historically the third and the latest type to appear. It developed first in Russia and very soon after that in Germany. It also became the most common type of nationalism, today characteristic of all East European nations (with the possible exception of the Czech Republic) and, no doubt, of some West European nations as well. This type combines ~w collectivistic definition of the nation with ethnic criteria of nationality. Ethnic nationalism sees nationality as determined genetically, entirely independent of the individual volition, and thus inherent. It can be neither acquired, if one is not born with it, nor lost, if one is. The freedom of the individual in this type of nationalism is denied consistently, or rather it is redefined as inner freedom or as recognized necessity. This denial and redefinition are predicated on the rejection of the individual as a rational being and an autonomous actor. Individuality itself is equated with the true human nature, which expresses itself in self-abnegation and submersion or dissolution in the collectivity.
"In Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity, I analyzed how the three types of nationalism developed and how they acquired their specific forms in England and the United States (which represent the first type of the individualistic and civic nationalism), in France (the model of the second type of collectivistic and civic nationalism), and in Russia and Germany (which represent the third, the collectivistic and ethnic type). Here I shall only note some general tendencies. The initial definition of the nation in every case (whether it is defined as a composite entity or in unitary terms) depends on the nature of the groups actively involved in the articulation of the new ideology, and the situations they face. The individualistic type of nationalism is likely to develop if during its formative period nationalism appeals to and serves the interests of wide sectors of the population (e.g., the English squires and newly literate urban masses, the American colonists, the French bourgeoisie, etc.), and new, open, upwardly mobile influential groups. (Examples in this case are the sixteenth-century English aristocracy and squirearchy. The German Bildungsbiirger as a group were new, fairly open, and upwardly mobile, but before the intellectuals were incorporated into the traditional elite, they had no influence.) The collectivistic type is to be expected if originally the social basis of nationalism is limited: that is, if nationalism is adopted by and serves the interests of a narrow traditional elite intent on preserving its status (such as the French or the Russian nobility), or a new group trying to attain status within the traditional social framework (German Bildungsbiirgertum), which then transmits it to the masses by indoctrination. A significant change in the situation of the relevant participants may result in a change in the definition of the nation (the American South provides an example of this). But such changes are extremely rare. It must be noted that geography plays no part in this process and, what is perhaps more important, neither does the date of the emergence of a particular nationalism relative to other nationalisms: a society which is among the first to define itself as a nation may develop a collectivistic nationalism, and a recent nation may have an individualistic nationalism.
"What does play a part, and especially in determining whether a particularnationalism will be defined as Civic Or as ethnic, is the perception of a nation's status relative to other nations, or its symbolic place-specifically, whether it is perceived as a part of the West or not. To a certain extent, such perception is dependent on the traditional, prenational beliefs in the society in question, which in all cases exert a significant formative influence on the nature of the developing national identity. Sometimes, as in Russia, the central factor in the development of ethnic nationalisms has been ressentiment, a sustained sentiment of existential envy and resentment based on a sense of one's inferiority vis-a-vis the societies from which the ideas of nationalism were imported, and which therefore were originally seen as models. Historically, the sources of importation were to the west of the importers and, more important, were invariably defined as parts of the symbolic West. In consequence, ethnic nationalisms developed as variants of an explicitly anti-Western ideology. Societies which imported national ideas from elsewherewhether they defined themselves as nations early or late-but which did not at the moment of the adoption of national identity believe themselves to be inferior to their models, tended to define themselves in civic terms. In such cases, the record of their achievement provided them with sufficient reasons for national pride, and they had no need to resort to the claim that their superiority was inherent (in their blood, soul, soil, unadulterated language, or whatnot).
"It is therefore possible to distinguish between Western, less Western, and anti-Western nationalisms in Europe and elsewhere. But the geographical location of a nation does not tell us which type of nationalism is characteristic of it. On the contrary, the type of nationalism characteristic of a given society allows one to locate it on the symbolic map as we have charted it, and define it as a part of the West or of the East, and of Western or Eastern Europe.
"For the purposes of this volume it is, of course, important to compare Eastern and Western Europe. And the crucial question to ask is whether it is likely at East European societies, recently liberated from the Soviet yoke, will go the way of the West and, like the core West European societies, develop into liberal democracies. Since this is directly related to the kind of nationalism in these societies, the question may be reformulated to inquire about the likelihood that East European nations will exchange their ethnic nationalisms for nationalisms characteristic of some West European nations, for example the individualistic and civic nationalism of the English, or the collectivistic but civic nationalism of the French.
"It must be understood that what this implies is nothing less than a transformation of the identities of these nations. Such transformations, while possible, do not seem likely in most of the East European societies and former Soviet republics today. They are unlikely, first of all, because the respective social elites of these societies, namely their intelligentsias, have a vested interest in ethnic nationalism (to which they owe their position as social elites). By the same token, they have absolutely no interest, whatever they may say, in democratization, which implies equality and therefore leveling of their group status with that of the rest of the population. Of course, an identity may also be transformed under pressure from outside. Germany, which was the quintessential example of ethnic nationalism, may be the model of a successful transformation of identity under pressure from without. But as Germany proves, a transformation of identity from without requires a very heavy pressure indeed-as heavy as a long-term occupation or partition. The sad experience of Bosnia-Herzegovina teaches us that the international community is not ready for such measures even under the worst of circumstances."
Greenfeld, Liah. "Nationalism in Western and Eastern Europe Compared," in Can Europe Work? Germany & the Reconstruction of Postcommunist Societies, eds. Stephen E. Hanson and Willfried Spohn. Seattle & London: University of Washington Press, 1995.
NOTE: Eric Hobsbawm is one of the best known historians of the Twentieth Century. In addition to many books on a variety of topics, Hobsbawm has written two important texts dealing with the subject of nationalism. These include: Nations and Nationalism Since 1780 and The Invention of Tradition. The excerpt included here is drawn from Nations and Nationalism since 1780.
Neither objective nor subjective definitions are thus satisfactory, and both are misleading. In any case, agnosticism is the best initial posture of a student in this field, and so this book assumes no a priori definition of what constitutes a nation. As an initial working assumption any sufficiently large body of people whose members regard themselves as members of a 'nation', will be treated as such. However, whether such a body of people does so regard itself cannot be established simply by consulting writers or political spokesmen of organizations claiming the status of 'nation' for it. The appearance of a group of spokesmen for some 'national idea' is not insignificant, but the word 'nation' is today used so widely and imprecisely that the use of the vocabulary of nationalism today may mean very little indeed.
Nevertheless, in approaching 'the national question' 'it is more profitable to begin with the concept of "the nation" (i.e. with "nationalism") than with the reality it represents'. For 'The ‘nation’ as conceived by nationalism, can be recognized prospectively; the real "nation" can only be recognized a posteriori.'
This is the approach of the present book. It pays particular attention to the changes and transformations of the concept, particularly towards the end of the nineteenth century. Concepts, of course, are not part of free-floating philosophical discourse, but socially, historically and locally rooted, and must be explained in terms of these realities.
For the rest, the position of the writer may be summarized as follows.
    1.    I use the term 'nationalism' in the sense defined by Gellner, namely to mean 'primarily a principle which holds that the political and national unit should be congruent.' I would add that this principle also implies that the political duty of Ruritanians to the polity which encompasses and represents the Ruritanian nation, overrides all other public obligations, and in extreme cases (such as wars) all other obligations of whatever kind. This implication distinguishes modern nationalism from other and less demanding forms of national or group identification which we shall also encounter. 

    2.    Like most serious students, I do not regard the 'nation' as a primary nor as an unchanging social entity. It belongs exclusively to a particular, and historically recent, period. It is a social entity only insofar as it relates to a certain kind of modern territorial state, the 'nation-state', and it is pointless to discuss nation and nationality except insofar as both relate to it. Moreover, with Gellner I would stress the element of artifact, invention and social engineering which enters into the making of nations. 'Nations as a natural, God-given way of classifying men, as an inherent ... political destiny, are a myth; nationalism, which sometimes takes preexisting cultures and turns them into nations, sometimes invents them, and often obliterates preexisting cultures: that is a reality.' In short, for the purposes of analysis nationalism comes before nations. Nations do not make states and nationalisms but the other way round. 

    3.    The 'national question', as the old Marxists called it, is situated at the point of intersection of politics, technology and social transformation. Nations exist not only as functions of a particular kind of territorial state or the aspiration to establish one - broadly speaking, the citizen state of the French Revolution - but also in the context of a particular stage of technological and economic development. Most students today will agree that standard national languages, spoken or written, cannot emerge as such before printing, mass literacy and hence, mass schooling. It has even been argued that popular spoken Italian as an idiom capable of expressing the full range of what a twentieth-century language needs outside the domestic and face-to-face sphere of communication, is only being constructed today as a function of the needs of national television programming. Nations and their associated phenomena must therefore be analyzed in terms of political, technical, administrative, economic and other conditions and requirements. 

    4.    For this reason they are, in my view, dual phenomena, constructed essentially from above, but which cannot be understood unless also analyzed from below, that is in terms of the assumptions, hopes, needs, longings and interests of ordinary people, which are not necessarily national and still less nationalist. If I have a major criticism of Gellner's work it is that his preferred perspective of modernization from above, makes it difficult to pay adequate attention to the view from below.

That view from below, i.e. the nation as seen not by governments and the spokesmen and activists of nationalist (or non-nationalist) movements, but by the ordinary persons who are the objects of their action and propaganda, is exceedingly difficult to discover. Fortunately social historians have learned how to investigate the history of ideas, opinions and feelings at the sub-literary level, so that we are today less likely to confuse, as historians once habitually did, editorials in select newspapers with public opinion. We do not know much for certain. However, three things are clear.

First, official ideologies of states and movements are not guides to what it is in the minds of even the most loyal citizens or supporters. Second, and more specifically, we cannot assume that for most people national identification - when it exists - excludes or is always or ever superior to, the remainder of the set of identifications which constitute the social being. In fact, it is always combined with identifications of another kind, even when it is felt to be superior to them. Thirdly, national identification and what it is believed to imply, can change and shift in time, even in the course of quite short periods. In my judgment this is the area of national studies in which, thinking and research are most urgently needed today. 

    5.    The development of nations and nationalism within old-established states such as Britain and France, has not been studied very intensively, though it is now attracting attention. The existence of this gap is illustrated by the neglect, in Britain, of any problems connected with English nationalism - a term which in itself sounds odd to many ears - compared to the attention paid to Scots, Welsh, not to mention Irish nationalism. On the other hand there have in recent years been major advances in the study of national movements aspiring to be states, mainly following Hroch's pathbreaking comparative studies of small European national movements. Two points in this excellent writer's analysis are embodied in my own. First, 'national consciousness' develops unevenly among the social groupings and regions of a country; this regional diversity and its reasons have in the past been notably neglected. Most students would, incidentally, agree that, whatever the nature of the social groups first captured by 'national consciousness', the popular masses - workers, servants, peasants - are the last to be affected by it. Second, and in consequence, I follow his useful division of the history of national movements into three phases. In nineteenth-century Europe, for which it was developed, phase A was purely cultural, literary and folkloric, and had no particular political or even national implications, any more than the researches (by non-Romanies) of the Gypsy Lore Society have for the subjects of these enquiries. In phase B we find a body of pioneers and militants of 'the national idea' and the beginnings of political campaigning for this idea. The bulk of Hroch's work is concerned with this phase and the analysis of the origins, composition and distribution of this minorité agissante. My own concern in this book is more with phase C when - and not before - nationalist programmes acquire mass support, or at least some of the mass support that nationalists always claim they represent. The transition from phase B to phase C is evidently a crucial moment in the chronology of national movements. Sometimes, as in Ireland, it occurs before the creation of a national state; probably very much more often it occurs afterwards, as a consequence of that creation. Sometimes, as in the so- called Third World, it does not happen even then.
Finally, I cannot but add that no serious historian of nations and nationalism can be a committed political nationalist, except in the sense in which believers in the literal truth of the Scriptures, while unable to make contributions to evolutionary theory, are not precluded from making contributions to archaeology and Semitic philology. Nationalism requires too much belief in what is patently not so. As Renan said: 'Getting its history wrong is part of being a nation.' Historians are professionally obliged not to get it wrong, or at least to make an effort not to. To be Irish and proudly attached to Ireland - even to be proudly Catholic-Irish or Ulster Protestant Irish - is not in itself incompatible with the serious study of Irish history. To be a Fenian or an Orangeman, I would judge, is not so compatible, any more than being a Zionist is compatible with writing a genuinely serious history of the Jews; unless the historian leaves his or her convictions behind when entering the library or the study. Some nationalist historians have been unable to do so. Fortunately, in setting out to write the present book I have not needed to leave my non-historical convictions behind.
Hobsbawm, Eric J. Nations and Nationalism Since 1780. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
NOTE: Adrian Hastings is an Emeritus Professor of Theology at the University of Leeds. He is author of a number of books, including The Construction of Nationhood which is quoted from below. This book represents a direct reply to Eric Hobsbawm and is based on a series of Wiles Lectures which Hastings delivered in Belfast in May 1996. (Interestingly, Hobsbawm's Nations and Nationalism since 1780 is based on a series of Wiles Lectures which he delivered in May 1985.)
Let me begin by briefly setting out my central theses, themes to which we will return from one angle or another again and again.
    1.    For the development of nationhood from one or more ethnicities, by far the most important and widely present factor is that of an extensively used vernacular literature. A long struggle against an external threat may also have a significant effect as, in some circumstances, does state formation, though the latter may well have no national effect whatever elsewhere. A nation may precede or follow a state of its own but it is certainly assisted by it to a greater self-consciousness. Most such developments are stimulated by the ideal of a nation-state and of the world as a society of nations originally 'imagined', if you like the word, through the mirror of the Bible, Europe's primary textbook, but turned into a formal political philosophy no earlier than the nineteenth century and then next to canonised by President Woodrow Wilson and the Versailles peace settlement of 1920.

    2.    An ethnicity is a group of people with a shared cultural identity and spoken language. It constitutes the major distinguishing element in all pre-national societies, but may survive as a strong subdivision with a loyalty of its own within established nations.

    3.    A nation is a far more self-conscious community than an ethniclty. Formed from one or more ethnicities, and normally identified by a literature of its own, it possesses or claims the right to political identity and autonomy as a people, together with the control of specific territory, comparable to that of biblical Israel and of other independent entities in a world thought of as one of nation-states.

    4.    A nation-state is a state which identifies itself in terms of one specific nation whose people are not seen simply as 'subjects' of the sovereign but as a horizontally bonded society to whom the state in a sense belongs. There is thus an identity of character between state and people. In some way the state's sovereignty is inherent within the people, expressive of its historic identity. In it, ideally, there is a basic equivalence between the borders and character of the political unit upon the one hand and a selfconscious cultural community on the other. In most cases this is a dream as much as a reality. Most nation-states in fact include groups of people who do not belong to its core culture or feel themselves to be part of a nation so defined. Nevertheless almost all modern states act on the bland assumption that they are nation-states.

    5.    'Nationalism' means two things: a theory and a practice. As a political theory - that each 'nation' should have its own 'state' - it derives from the nineteenth century. However, that general principle motivates few nationalists. In practice nationalism is strong only in particularist terms, deriving from the belief that one's own ethnic or national tradition is especially valuable and needs to be defended at almost any cost through creation or extension of its own nation-state. If nationalism became theoretically central to western political thinking in the nineteenth century, it existed as a powerful reality in some places long before that. As something which can empower large numbers of ordinary people, nationalism is a movement which seeks to provide a state for a given 'nation' or further to advance the supposed interests of its own 'nation-state' regardless of other considerations. It arises chiefly where and when a particular ethnicity or nation feels itself threatened in regard to its own proper character, extent or importance, either by external attack or by the state system of which it has hitherto formed part; but nationalism can also be stoked up to fuel the expansionist imperialism of a powerful nation-state, though this is still likely to be done under the guise of an imagined threat or grievance.

    6.    Religion is an integral element of many cultures, most ethnicities and some states. The Bible provided, for the Christian world at least, the original model of the nation. Without it and its Christian interpretation and implementation, it is arguable that nations and nationalism, as we know them, could never have existed. Moreover, religion has produced the dominant character of some state-shaped nations and of some nationalisms. Biblical Christianity both undergirds the cultural and political world out of which the phenomena of nationhood and nationalism as a whole developed and in a number of important cases provided a crucial ingredient for the particular history of both nations and nationalisms.
I will be suggesting that England presents the prototype of both a nation and a nation-state in the fullest sense, that its national development, while not wholly uncomparable with that of other Atlantic coastal societies, does precede every other - both in the date at which it can fairly be detected and in the roundness that it achieved centuries before the eighteenth. It most clearly manifests, in the pre- Enlightenment era, almost every appropriate 'national' characteristic. Indeed it does more than 'manifest' the nature of a nation, it establishes it. In the words of a very recent writer, Liah Greenfeld, 'The birth of the English nation was not the birth of a nation, it was the birth of the nations, the birth of nationalism.' Moreover, its importance for us lies too both in its relationship with religion and in the precise impact of English nationalism on its neighbours and colonies. Much of this, I will be claiming, was detectable already in Saxon times by the end of the tenth century. Despite the, often exaggerated, counter-action of the Norman Conquest, an English nation-state survived 1066, grew fairly steadily in the strength of its national consciousness through the later twelfth and thirteenth centuries, but emerged still more vociferously with its vernacular literary renaissance and the pressures of the Hundred Years War by the end of the fourteenth. Nevertheless the greatest intensity of its nationalist experience together with its overseas impact must undoubtedly be located in and after the late sixteenth century.
I will argue that there appears to be no comparable case in Europe and that it was this English model, wholly preceding the late eighteenth century, in which this sort of process is held by modernist theory to find its roots, which was then re-employed, remarkably little changed, in America and elsewhere. I will not suggest that English nationalism preceded an English nationhood. On the contrary. However English nationalism of a sort was present already in the fourteenth century in the long wars with France and still more in the sixteenth and seventeenth. Indeed, without the impact of English nationalism, the history of England's neighbours seems virtually unintelligible.
Hastings, Adrian. The Construction of Nationhood: Ethnicity, Religion and Nationalism. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. pp. 2-5.