“Nation” has been in use in the English language since the fourteenth century, when it was first deployed to designate groups and populations. Although the concept of “race” was not well defined in this period, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) retrospectively refers to such groups and populations as “racial” in character. In the modern period, the OED continues, the meaning of “nation” came to refer to large aggregates of people closely associated through a combination of additional factors, including common language, politics, culture, history, and occupation of the same territory. Though it appears that an initial racial connection among nationals was later supplanted by a widened range of associating factors, the early understanding of “nation” as based in race and “common descent” remains central to discussions of the term to this day, either as a retrospective imposition of the sort orchestrated by the OED or as a “natural” …

This essay may be found on page 175 of the printed volume.

Collectivities, Ideologies, Places
Works Cited
Permanent Link to this Essay