Jul 22 2016

Professor Anthony Smith

Anthony SmithIt was with profound sadness that we learned of the death of Anthony Smith, Emeritus Professor in Ethnicity and Nationalism in the LSE Department of Government, this week.

ANTHONY D. SMITH (1939-2016) was Emeritus Professor of Nationalism and Ethnicity at the London School of Economics, President of the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism, and Founding Editor of Nations and Nationalism. He was one of several LSE scholars (who included Ernest Gellner and Elie Kedourie) who made seminal contributions to the theory and comparative study of nationalism. More than anyone else, however, he established nationalism as a separate interdisciplinary field of study by his magisterial overviews that helped create common definitions and classifications through which the different frameworks could be understood.

He published seventeen books translated into twenty two languages, and over one hundred articles and chapters in books on nations, nationalism and ethnicity, in which he developed his ethno-symbolic approach. His main publications included The Ethnic Revival (1981), The Ethnic Origins of Nations (1986), National Identity (1991), Nationalism and Modernism (1998), Chosen Peoples (2003), The Cultural Foundations of Nations (2008), and The Nation Made Real (2013). Another book on music and nationalism is in production.

Through his undergraduate and MSc courses and doctoral workshop, he made the LSE in Walker Connor’s words ‘the Mecca’ for the teaching of and research into nationalism. He, with his doctoral students, established the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism (ASEN) which for over 25 years has hosted annual conferences on nationalism at LSE, established two leading journals, and in honour of his teacher, Ernest Gellner, an annual lecture series. He was a dedicated supervisor and many of his students have attained chairs at leading institutions. After his retirement from the Government Department in 2004, he struggled with great tenacity against a debilitating illness. In spite of this, he continued to publish prolifically, to act as editor of Nations and Nationalism, and to support his Professorial successor, John Breuilly, in maintaining the position of nationalism at LSE. He leaves behind a wife and young son.

Dr John Hutchinson
Associate Professor (Reader) in Nationalism, Department of Government

If you would like to post a tribute to Anthony; leave your condolences or share any memories you have of him please comment on this post.

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12 Responses to Professor Anthony Smith

  1. What a loss to us all! He did so much for the community of nationalism studies — more than anyone else. A wonderful man. Zikhrono l’vrakha.

  2. Rian maelzer says:

    I just happened to look for the Wikipedia entry on Professor Smith and was saddened to read of his passing. I was privileged to study under him, and a compliment he paid me when he saw me in the hallway a day after I’d given a presentation in one of his graduate classes still means much to me a quarter of a century later. His contribution to the study of nationalism was profound.

  3. Guevara says:

    My condolence to Anthony Smith’s family and friends. His contribution in the field of ethnicity, nationhood and nationalism is indeed enormous; and there is no doubt that we have lost a giant in the field of ethnicity and nationalism. His works were generally critical to my doctoral and postdoctoral research programmes even though in the latter programme our visions on the European identity question differ.

    May the academic world build on his achievements in the centuries to come.

  4. Preparing my MA class of Ethnomusicology at NOVA School of Social Sciences and Humanities in Lisbon, I found this news. Be his thoughts developed by followers and his learners. I couldn’t find best writings to contextualize the “Problems of Music Representation” regarding nation building and interpretation. My condolence to Professor Anthony D. Smith’s family, friends and students.

  5. I found this news while searching for his academic articles. I am very saddened by his death. He was one of the greatest minds who redefined the study of Nationalism. I believe we cannot understand nationalism and ethnic basis of state formation without reading his work.

    RIP Professor.

  6. Jeylan W. Hussein says:

    Anthony Smith is no doubt among the most outstanding foundational thinkers on nationalism, ethnicity, and identity politics and processes. The world misses a giant scholar in these interrelating fields, No doubt, however, that his powerful contributions will continue to influence. It is difficult to pass judgement on the meaning and features of nation, nationalism, ethnicity and ethnic politics without building that judgement on the philosophical, conceptual and analytical foundations which Anthony has laid.

  7. Jaime Portugal Bustillo says:

    very painful loss….I am still looking for his works….HE did a lot for the NAtionalism theory… july 16th a very sad day for the Academic Knowledge.


  8. Iain Inkster says:

    Anthony appointed me to head the administrative staff when he took over as head of the sociology department at LSE. Oh he was feisty! Within a few weeks the Director was asking ADS to “get your tanks off my lawn”.

    I was an administrator, not an academic, so I cannot give a critique on his work or contribution to the understanding of moral dilemmata. What I can tell you is that he was right.

    Let me end by telling you of his Summer party every year. Undergraduates, postgraduates, doctorate students (who, let’s face it had been going for years). A whole host of people in his home with his wonderful wife Diane whom he adored.

    Anthony drove me mad on several occasions. He was an academic who had little sense of how the real world worked. I think that’s true of quite a few academics! But I am so very sorry to hear of his death. I know he was a brilliant social historian, but he was also a wonderful human being. x


  9. C WILLIAMS says:

    Shocked and saddened to see that my first year undergraduate tutor has died. Three decades later, I still think about him and his kindness, brilliance and erudition at least once a week. His seminal interdisciplinary course called I think ‘Theories and Problems of Nationalism’ was a revelation to me. It was a pioneering field of study that went against the grain in some ways and I am still grateful for what it did for me. RIP.

  10. Hera Kanga (née Chinoy) says:

    It greatly saddens me to learn of Prof. Smith’s passing. He was a great source of encouragement to anyone who sought his advice and had a profound influence on me that I feel to this day. He was truly a grand person.

  11. Hera Kanga (née Chinoy) says:

    It greatly saddens me to learn of Prof. Smith’s passing. He was a huge source of encouragement to anyone seeking his advice and had a profound influence on me that I feel to this day. He was truly a grand man.

  12. David Bongard says:

    Il fut un des penseurs qui me permis de saisir la complexité des sujets qu’il traitait avec “dévotion”. Je me souviens avec émotions des cours que j’ai suivi a la LSE en 1995/96.


    David Bongard (Switzerland)

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