Looking Backwards at Contemporary Polities



In T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, Merlin turns the young Arthur into a bird so that he can take to the skies and gain a more accurate vision of the world below.1 A key lesson was the relative insignificance of boundaries seen from above:

[Arthur] saw the problem as plain as a map. … Frontiers were imaginary lines. The imaginary lines on the earth’s surface only needed to be unimagined. The airborne birds skipped them by nature. How mad the frontiers … seemed … and would to Man if he could fly.2


Civil Society Central Bank Foreign Policy International Relation Institutionalist Theory 
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  1. 2.
    T.H. White, The Once and Future King (New York: Ace, 1987), 638–9.Google Scholar
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    See especially Yale H. Ferguson and Richard W. Mansbach, Polities: Authority, Identities, and Change (Columbus: University of South Carolina Press, 1996); ‘The Past as Prelude to the Future: Changing Loyalties in Global Politics’, in Yosef Lapid and Friedrich Kratochwil (eds), The Return of Culture and Identity in IR Theory (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1995); ‘Between Celebration and Despair: Constructive Suggestions for Future International Theory’, International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 4 (December 1991), 363–86. Some of the ideas in this essay are expressed in the foregoing works and also in Yale H. Ferguson, ‘Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Polities Great and Small’, Mershon International Studies Review, Vol. 38, Supplement 2 (October 1994), 241–6; and ‘Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Global Politics: Continuity and Change’, paper for Commission of History of International Relations session on Multiculturalism, 18th International Congress of Historical Sciences, Montréal, Canada, 27 August–3 September 1995.Google Scholar
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    John J. Mearsheimer started the exchange with his ‘The False Promise of International Institutions’, International Security, Vol. 19, No. 3 (Winter 1994/5), 5–49. It continued in International Security, Vol. 20, No. 4 (Summer 1995). See Robert O. Keohane and Lisa L. Martin, ‘The Promise of Institutionalist Theory’, 39–51; Charles A. Kupchan and Clifford A. Kupchan, ‘The Promise of Collective Security’, 52–61; John Gerard Ruggie, ‘The False Premise of Realism’, 62–70; Alexander Wendt, ‘Constructing International Politics’, 71–81; and John J. Mearsheimer, A Realist Reply’, 82–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Samuel P. Huntington, ‘The Clash of Civilizations?’, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 73, No. 3 (Summer 1993), 22–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Books in English include: Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso Editions and New Left Books, 1983)Google Scholar
  11. John A. Armstrong, Nations Before Nationalism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1982)Google Scholar
  12. Karl Wolfgang Deutsch, Nationalism and Social Communication: An Inquiry into the Foundations of Nationality (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1953)Google Scholar
  13. Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983)Google Scholar
  14. Eric J. Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism since 1780 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990)Google Scholar
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  16. William H. McNeill, Polyethnicity and National Unity in World History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986)Google Scholar
  17. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Pandaemonium: Ethnicity in International Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993)Google Scholar
  18. William Pfaff, The Wrath of Nations: Civilization and the Furies of Nationalism (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993)Google Scholar
  19. Anthony D. Smith: The Ethnic Origins of Nations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986) and National Identity (London: Penguin, 1991).Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1998

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