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British Identities before Nationalism: Ethnicity and Nationhood in the Atlantic World, 1600-1800

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Inspired by debates among political scientists over the strength and depth of the pre-modern roots of nationalism, this study attempts to gauge the status of ethnic identities in an era whose dominant loyalties and modes of political argument were confessional, institutional and juridical. Colin Kidd's point of departure is the widely shared orthodox belief that the whole world had been peopled by the offspring of Noah. In addition, Kidd probes inconsistencies in national myths of origin and ancient constitutional claims, and considers points of contact which existed in the early modern era between ethnic identities that are now viewed as antithetical, including those of Celts and Saxons. He also argues that Gothicism qualified the notorious Francophobia of eighteenth-century Britons. A wide-ranging example of the new British history, this study draws upon evidence from England, Scotland, Ireland and America, while remaining alert to European comparisons and influences.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Kidd's study makes...important and welcome contributions to the study of nationalism." Journal of World History

"British Identities before Nationalism is an intellectual rather than a political history...ritish Identities is the result of prodigious research, calling not only on secondary commentaries but also including a wide range of primary printed sources. Kidd presents the results of his research with remarkable clarity and not without a touch of humor. His work will be of considerable use to anyone interested in the formation of national identities in the English-speaking world." The Journal of Modern History

"...Kidd's book has a good deal for the student of the Scottish Enlightenment." Roger L. Emerson, 18th Century Scotland

"...timely and significant....comprises an important effort to overcome the romanticized, ethnicized, and ultimely victimized view of the British past." Arthur Williamson, The International History Review

"Kidd provides a valuable compendium of information, broadly researched and urbanely expressed. Kidd employs the newly minted insights of comparative and cultural analysis to depict the eighteenth century as a culmination of older ways of thought." William and Mary Quarterly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521024532
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Table of Contents

List of abbreviations
1 Introduction 1
2 Prologue: the Mosaic foundations of early modern European identity 9
3 Ethnic theology and British identities 34
4 Whose ancient constitution? Ethnicity and the English past, 1600-1800 75
5 Britons, Saxons and the Anglican quest for legitimacy 99
6 The Gaelic dilemma in early modern Scottish political culture 123
7 The weave of Irish identities, 1600-1790 146
8 Constructing the pre-romantic Celt 185
9 Mapping a Gothic Europe 211
10 The varieties of Gothicism in the British Atlantic world, 1689-1800 250
11 Conclusion 287
Index 292
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