New Issue of Medieval Worlds with a cluster on »Tribes, Ethnicity and the Nation«!



This volume of Medieval Worlds focuses on comparative studies of Europe. Within this limi- ted scope, the topics range from transcultural Iberia to Old Norse literature, and from early Irish identities to late medieval Byzantium. The main cluster of six papers continues a theme already addressed in Issue 3 under the heading »Tribes, Ethnicity and the Nation«. This time, the papers are derived from an Oxford project on »Ethnicity and the Nation«, which the two project leaders, Ilya Afanasyev and Nicholas Matheou, present in their introduction. Ethnici- ty and nationhood are not comfortable topics because they have often been used for identity politics, for chauvinist ideologies and worse. Therefore, many scholars prefer to regard eth- nic groups and nations as rather irrelevant to their field of study as ideological constructions that had or have little basis in real life. However, rather than leaving ethnicity and the nation to those who misuse them, we should try to understand why they do become salient under certain circumstances. This requires historicizing ethnic and national identities, and looking at when they mattered and to whom. It also implies going beyond all the debates about words and their definitions. After all, it is secondary whether we call the early medieval Visigothic kingdom or high medieval England a ›nation‹ or not, or whether we use the label ›nationa- lism‹ for late medieval Scottish or Hussite rebels. Rather, we should aim at more precise and complex descriptions of the forms of collective agency, individual allegiance and symbolic representation in certain historical contexts, and of their changes over time. This is what the papers in this volume aim to achieve. We hope to continue this debate in one of the upcoming issues, and most importantly, extend it to a more global horizon. (Walter Pohl – editor)

Revisiting Pre-Modern Ethnicity and Nationhood: Preface – Ilya Afanasyev and Nicholas S. M. Matheou