‘Nations are not something eternal. They began, so they will come to an end. A European confederation will probably replace them. But such is not the law of the age in which we live’ [Renan in 19: p. 59]. So wrote the French historian Ernest Renan in his celebrated article Qu’est-ce qu’une nation? (1882), one of the richest and most original essays on the subject of national identity to appear in the nineteenth century.
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