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Book description

Featuring a sweeping array of essays from scholars of state formation and development, this book presents an overview of approaches to studying the history of the state. Focusing on the question of state formation, this volume takes a particular look at the beginnings, structures, and constant reforming of state power. Not only do the contributors draw upon both modernist and postmodernist theoretical perspectives, they also address the topic from a global standpoint, examining states from all areas of the world. In their diverse and thorough exploration of state building, the authors cross the theoretical, geographic, and chronological boundaries that traditionally shape this field in order to rethink the customary macro and micro approaches to the study of state building and make the case for global histories of both pre-modern and modern state formations.


'A genuinely global and epoch-spanning inquiry into the emergence and continuing transformations of state power, this eagerly awaited collection explodes the parochial tradition of treating modern North-Atlantic nation-states as normative. By demonstrating the diverse forms that emerging states have taken in Africa, Asia, and the Americas as well as Europe, from the ancient world until our own time, this path-breaking volume will instruct readers in multiple disciplines. Provocative, wise, and compelling, these essays challenge and rework both the Weberian focus on state autonomy and institutional capacity and Gramscian/Foucaultian claims concerning the embeddedness of the state in discourses and practices. State Formations offers a bold new framework for continuing debates.'

James T. Kloppenberg - Charles Warren Professor of American History, Harvard University

'Reading through State Formations is an extraordinarily rewarding experience.'

Peter Onuf - Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor of History, Emeritus, University of Virginia

'Social science too often treats the existence of states as obvious and focuses on the societies they demarcate or their international relations. State Formations brings a broad historical and comparative perspective to show how states are made and change, how they differ, and how conventional assumptions can mislead analysis. This is a book rich in empirical cases, well-marshalled to improve new thinking and better theory.'

Craig Calhoun - President, Berggruen Institute, California

'This excellent volume brings together contributions from historians and theorists in discussing a wide range of historical formations of the state …'

George Steinmetz - University of Michigan

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