The overriding theme of Stein Tønnesson’s essay is the relationship between anthropology and history in research about and the shaping of national identity. For the last twenty years Tønnesson has been carrying with him an inner struggle between his own inherited identity as a historian and the inspiration he has received from an anthropological «inner Thomas» who took up residence in his mind when he first met Thomas Hylland Eriksen at the Institute of Peace Research Oslo (PRIO) in 1990. Tønnesson reveals here the doubts he has been struggling with when seeking to embrace the liberating potential of Hylland Eriksen’s identity theory. Tønnesson’s problem is that his historical readings reveal identities that were far less flexible than many social scientists have come to believe. Through a rereading of some of Thomas Hylland Eriksen’s writings Tønnesson discovers that his historical doubts have actually been shared by Hylland Eriksen as well. This helps him reconcile his inner Thomas with his own identity as a historian. Anthropology and history may well walk hand in hand, although not without tension.
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