nations as an object of philological and, later, historical, study. A reliance on Tacitus's Germania as a historiographical model produced problems from the start, according to Geary, because Tacitus relied less on Herodotus (whom Geary sees as a "pre-Orientalist" [p. 47] in his "value-neutral approach to the customs and peoples he observed" [p. 46]) than on Pliny the Elder and the subsequent Christian historiographical tradition that originated with Augustine and Jerome. It is Herodotus's identification of peoples and tribes based on fluid geographic and cultural distinctions subject to change over time that Geary praises over Pliny's insistence that peoples possessed eternal, essentially distinguishing characteristics. As well, Geary usefully provides a survey of the breakup of the Roman empire, arguing that this event as crucial to nationalist claims of primary acquisition. Again, he reiterates that historiography is at fault here, especially a narrative historiography that makes the continuity of an ethnic continuity its major theme. As a corrective, Geary disrupts this continuity by demonstrating the fluid nature both of peoples and the geographic territories they occupied. Rather than any real continuous link with the past, Geary posits a nominal one in which, despite "the constant shifting of allegiances, intermarriages,
Journal of World History – University of Hawai'I Press
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