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MYTHS AND NATIONHOOD
Myths are central to the way we live. They are not just fables, deceptions and manipulations. They are vital and necessary aspects of every community. All communities tell narratives about themselves, about who they are, how they came to be and what they are striving to do. Myths establish coherence and a consistency for the members of a community and create the assumptions that are seen as normal and natural.
In politics, myth has crucial functions in determining which parts of a community’s self-image are seen as important and which are ignored; thanks to the various myths that communities tell about themselves, what is and is not stressed changes over time. The nature of power, legitimacy, change, meanings, unity and diversity are all deeply affected by myth, as are questions of nationhood, ethnicity and conflict.
In this pioneering work a group of specialists − among them Anthony Smith, Norman Davies, Geoffrey Hosking and George Schöpflin — look at the general and theoretical nature of myth on a universal basis and examine the specific myths of various nations.