Empires and Nations in the Modern World: Shifting Political Orders

In: Asian Review of World Histories
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  • 1 Andrew W. Mellon Professor of World History, Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
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This essay traces the path of empires and nations as forms of governance, the eventual predominance of nations and disappearance of empires, and the contemporary interplay of large and small nations as the dominant form of global governance. It also gives attention to the rise of capitalist economic organization as a factor expanding empires and later encouraging nationhood. The essay emphasizes two stages in the emergence of nations: the emergence in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries of nations and eventually of the great powers, and the post-1945 emergence of nations as the universal form of government, consisting mostly of small powers, linked by the United Nations.

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