This paper introduces a project on the role of the "nation" as symbol, construct, event and actor, drawing on historical insights and postcolonial perspectives as well as focusing on urgent contemporary issues. It forms the introduction to a symposium issue of Law Text Culture on that theme. The idea of nation that has suffused the history of "the west" and its colonies for four hundred years is at once deeply political, raced, gendered and spaced. Nation stands at once as a positive, encompassing symbol of solidarity transcending the fractiousness of smaller groups but also as a force for exclusion, xenophobia, and aggression. Contemporary challenges to nation arise on both fronts. In the age of "globalisation" it stands simultaneously for parochialism and for "locality".

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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