John Hutchinson (academic)

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John Hutchinson (born 1949) is a British academic. He is a reader in nationalism at the London School of Economics (LSE), in the Department of Government.

John Hutchinson
Born 1949 (age 67–68)
Warrenpoint, County Down, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Alma mater  • University of Edinburgh
 • London School of Economics
Occupation Academic

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Warrenpoint, County Down, Northern Ireland, he graduated with a MA in modern history from the University of Edinburgh, located in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1970; and his PhD in sociology in 1985 from the London School of Economics, where he was supervised by Anthony D. Smith.


Before joining the LSE in 1999, Hutchinson taught in Australia at the interdisciplinary School of Humanities at Griffith University, located in Brisbane, Queensland, from 1974 to 1979, and from 1986 to 1999, where he became associate professor.

He is vice-president of the Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism and deputy editor of Nations and Nationalism. In addition, he sits on the advisory boards of the Institute for the Advancement of the Social Sciences at the American Boston University, located in Boston, Massachusetts; and of the Study Platform on Interlocking Nationalisms at the Dutch University of Amsterdam, located in Amsterdam.


Hutchinson is an interdisciplinary scholar whose work has contributed to theories of nationalism, the study of cultural nationalism, notably in Ireland, and more recently, warfare and nationalism.

He is a leading scholar of the ethnosymbolist school (established by Smith) that highlights the role of embedded historical memories in the formation of modern nations. His first monograph, The Dynamics of Cultural Nationalism[1] was nominated in 1988 for the Political Studies Association Prize and is widely cited[2][3][4] by scholars as a pioneering contribution to the field of Irish history and cultural nationalism. Hutchinson rejected earlier scholarship that tended to conflate nationalism and state-seeking movements. He argued that cultural nationalists should be differentiated from political nationalists, in having as their goal the defence of the nation as a community and its historical distinctiveness rather than on the achievement of a state. He explains how cultural nationalists act as moral innovators, emerging at times of crisis, to form movements that offer new maps of identity based on historical myths, that in turn may inspire programmes of socio-political regeneration. Hutchinson argues such movements operate sometimes as complementary to and sometimes as communitarian alternatives to political nationalism, when statist strategies are defunct. He emphasises the dynamic the role of historians and artists, showing how they interact with religious reformists and a discontented modernising intelligentsia to form national identities.

His second book, Modern Nationalism (Fontana 1994) applies this cultural approach to the analysis of contemporary politics, notably, the relationship of nationalism to the collapse of communism, the religious revival and contentions in multicultural polities. More recently, his Nations as Zones of Conflict (Sage 2005) has sought to combine the focus of ethnosymbolists on the historical embeddedness of nations with the stress of postmodernists on the multiplicity of identities by exploring nations as heterogeneous entities, characterised by persisting conflicts that derive from historic divisions (e.g., civil wars). Hutchinson argues that the role of contestation in nation-formation has been neglected. Such conflicts serve to "fill out" national identities and they give rise to alternative cultural and political visions that offer options to populations at times of crisis. This study has provoked praise and controversy.[5] Eric Kaufmann claims "Hutchinson dramatically expands the boundaries of the ethnosymbolist argument to engage not only 'modernist' but postmodernist critiques of the nation."[6] Although critical of what he sees as Hutchinson's idealist approach, Andreas Wimmer states: "(Hutchinson's) analysis of the layered character of nationalist myths, the internal heterogeneity and conflictual nature of nationalist discourse, as well as the episodic nature of nationalist mobilization represents a considerable step forward towards a more differentiated view of the nature of nationalism."

With Smith, Hutchinson co-edited Nationalism (Oxford 1994) and Ethnicity (Oxford 1996) that have become standard teaching texts for courses on nationalism in the English-speaking world, and his works have been translated into several languages, including Chinese, Norwegian and Turkish.


Recent publications[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The dynamics of cultural nationalism: the Gaelic revival and the creation of the Irish nation, J Hutchinson – 1987 – Allen & Unwin Pty.
  2. ^ Walker Connor in Ethnic and Racial Studies, 13, 1990,
  3. ^ Catherine B. Shannon in American Historical Review, 95 (2), 1990
  4. ^ Kosaku Yoshino in Nations and Nationalism, 1 (2), July 1995
  5. ^ Eric Kaufmann review in British Journal of Sociology, 57 (2) 2006, pp. 319–20.
  6. ^ Andreas Wimmer Nations and Nationalism 14 (1) 2008, p.10. See also "Debate on John Hutchinson's Nations as Zones of Conflict", Nations and Nationalism 14 (1) 2008, 14 (1), pp. 1–28.

External links[edit]