David Armitage, ‘Western Weed,’ The Times Literary Supplement, 5808 (25 July 2014): 4–5.
Racism, like nationalism, seems to be at once ancient and modern. Debates over the history of nationalism pit “primordialists”, who trace it back to the Israelites, against “modernists”, who see it arising as a political force only after the French and Industrial Revolutions. Primordialist students of racism find it far back in the ancient world among the Greeks; their modernist counterparts argue for origins in the emergent human sciences of the Enlightenment. Few -isms excite more passion about their invention or greater disagreement about their birth. Is there a middle way? Or do we just need a better explanatory framework?