In today's political and social language, the concept of nation - one of the most controversial and problematical - is situated at the heart of political and academic debate due to the renewed historical role of particularly aggressive forms of nationalism. Especially in contemporary times, the concept has been interpreted in varied, even conflicting, ways. What is a nation? A voluntary political community, or a natural, objective reality? How are nations born? Spontaneously, upon a wealth of history, culture and shared memories, or artificially, due to efforts of intellectuals and politicians who "invent" them in order to address specific political needs? What is their role and their destiny in the age of globalisation? Campi's book - which attempts to answer these and other questions - traces the evolution of the concept of nation in political thought since ancient times, devoting special attention to selected key passages: the advent of the modern state, the French Revolution, nineteenth-century Romanticism and liberalism, the heyday of nationalism, the age of totalitarianism, the era of decolonisation, globalisation and empire.
Alessandro Campi teaches History of Political Doctrines at the University of Perugia.