How Many Exceptionalisms?

Explorations in Comparative Macroanalysis

Aristide Zolberg
Book Cover

PB: $32.95
EAN: 978-1-59213-832-6
Publication: May 08

HC: $61.50
EAN: 978-1-59213-831-9
Publication: May 08

376 pages
6 x 9
12 tables, 1 figure

A collection of essays on the importance of comparative cultural analysis


The essays in How Many Exceptionalisms? span the long history of the intellectual output of Aristide Zolberg, one of the most distinguished social scientists of our time. In this collection, Zolberg shows his originality, insights, and breadth of thought as he addresses subjects ranging from theories of immigration policy, the making of Belgium, and the origins of the modern world system.

Written over three decades, and featuring many essays that have not been in wide circulation, Zolberg here draws from political science, cultural anthropology, sociology, and history to provide a configurative analysis of and long-term approach to the cultural diversity in Africa, Europe, and the United States.


"Ever since the late 1960s…Aristide Zolberg has crafted wonderfully engaging essays that have profoundly altered our understanding of politics and society in Africa, Europe and the United States. His writing has been deeply…global, especially with its focus on the large-scale movement of populations and their reception in new locations….Zolberg has been one of our most creative and informed scholars in the social sciences, at work on issues that really matter."
Ira Katznelson, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, Columbia University

"Each of the chapters in How Many Exceptionalisms? is a major academic contribution on its own terms. They show us how Zolberg has extricated key conceptual tools from the complicated architectures of social and political life—the management of diversity, the interactions of culture and history, the role of state formation in creating refugees, the limits of ‘crisis’ perspectives, and more. Together this selection of articles is one of those rare cases where the whole is indeed more than the sum of its parts. As the foremost contributor to macrohistorical analysis of international migration, Zolberg knows how to choose his essays: their sequence is a narrative that shows us how he got there, and does so with a grand geopolitical sweep."
Saskia Sassen, author of Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages

"(A) thoughtful reflection on macroanalysis.... Zolberg has presented us with a deeply global book. Its geographic sweep, historical depth, and theoretical eclecticism will surely nourish our curiosities about the past and present." Contemporary Sociology

Table of Contents

Introduction: Explorations in Political Macroanalysis
1. Patterns of National Integration
2. Moments of Madness
3. The Making of Flemings and Walloons: Belgium, 1830-1914
4. International Migration Policies in a Changing World System
5. Origins of the Modern World System: A Missing Link
6. The Formation of New States as a Refugee-Generating Process
7. How Many Exceptionalisms?
8. The Great Wall Against China: Responses to the First Immigration Crisis, 1885-1925
9. Matters of State: Theorizing Immigration Policy
10. Why Islam Is Like Spanish: Cultural Incorporation in Europe and the United States (co-authored by Long Litt Woon)
11. International Engagement and American Democracy: A Comparative Perspective

About the Author(s)

Aristide R. Zolberg is the Walter Eberstadt Professor of Political Science and Historical Studies at the New School for Social Research. He wrote the foreword to The Unwanted (Temple), is the author of A Nation by Design: Immigration Policy in the Fashioning of America and Creating Political Order: The Party-States of West Africa, and is co-author of Escape from Violence: Conflict and the Refugee Crisis in the Developing World.

In the Series

  • Politics, History, and Social Change edited by John C. Torpey

    The Politics, History, and Social Change series, edited by John C. Torpey, disseminates serious works that analyze the social changes that have transformed our world during the twentieth century and beyond. The main topics addressed include international migration; human rights; the political uses of history; the past and future of the nation-state; decolonization and the legacy of imperialism; and global inequality. The series will also translate into English outstanding works by scholars writing in other languages.