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UNIT-2 Discourses on Nationalism | DU BA HONS SEMESTER 4 NOTES CCPA


  • Emergence of Nationalism: Nationalism as an ideology and movement emerged in the late eighteenth century and has since been a significant force in global politics.

  • Enduring Relevance: Interest in nationalism has grown over time, indicating its enduring relevance in shaping political movements and identities.

  • Kant's Influence: Immanuel Kant's ideas contributed indirectly to nationalist thought by promoting a new political attitude that emphasized individual rights and autonomy.


Debates on Nationalism

  • Contentious Definitions: Defining nationalism has been contentious, with definitions varying based on time, place, and perspective.

  • Resistance to Foreign Domination: Some argue that nationalism emerges from resistance to foreign domination, but this view has limitations in explaining nationalist movements.

  • Classification of Nationalism: Nationalism can be classified into types such as civic and ethnic nationalism, each with distinct characteristics.

  • Role of Media: Karl Deutsch's social communication school emphasizes the role of media in defining and disseminating nationalist narratives.

  • Marxist Perspectives: Some Marxists limit nationalism to actions of the bourgeoisie, which may not fully explain nationalist movements in the Third World.

Contemporary Debates

  • Tension with Modernization: Tom Nairn highlights the tension between nationalism and modernization, suggesting that nationalism can challenge modern structures.

  • Post-Imperial World Order: Nationalism has redefined political autonomy in the post-imperial world order.

  • Ideological Contests: Debates like Primordialism vs. Modernism and Internationalism vs. Nationalism continue, but new fusions and syntheses are emerging.

  • Impact on Human Nature: Nationalism has deeply changed human nature, significantly enhancing its cultural domain.

Ethnic and Civic Nationalism

  • Ethnic Nationalism: Emphasizes objective criteria like language or descent for inclusion into a political community, often emphasizing cultural homogeneity.

  • Civic Nationalism: Focuses on territorial and legal dimensions, viewing the nation as a community of laws and emphasizing individual agency in choosing membership.

Nationalism in African Context

  • Challenges of Amalgamation: African nationalism faced the challenge of amalgamating and superseding tribes to build cohesive nations.

  • Impact of Colonization: European colonization introduced elements of inequality and class structures in African societies, impacting their development.

  • Importance of Contextual Study: It is essential to study African history on its own terms without forcing it into European developmental frameworks.

  • Colonial Legacy: Colonialism in Africa is seen as both preparatory for nation-building and a hindrance to its development, delaying the formation of modern, integrated nations.

Frantz Fanon on Nationalism

  • Critique of European Thought: Fanon rejected European Marxist and Leninist assumptions about the proletariat leading the world to socialism, emphasizing the need to overcome feelings of inferiority imposed by imperialism.

  • Role of Violence: Fanon believed in the positive value of individual and mass violence against oppressors as a means of social revolution.

  • Critique of Native Bourgeoisie: Fanon criticized the native bourgeoisie in colonies as self-serving and not interested in industrializing or advancing their countries.

  • Alienation and Class Oppression: He argued that alienation was not just national but also from class oppression, which national liberation might not necessarily end.

Amilcar Cabral's View on Nationalism

  • Class Structure in Guinea: Cabral identified two classes in Guinea, whites (Portuguese) and Africans, with a "petty bourgeoisie" in urban areas.

  • Peasant Revolution: He emphasized organizing peasants for the revolution, using cooperatives as the basis for economic organization.

  • Role of Revolutionary Vanguard: Cabral recognized the importance of the revolutionary vanguard in educating the propertyless and ensuring the fidelity of the petty bourgeoisie to socialist ideals.

  • Integration of Socialist Objectives: He highlighted the need for integrating socialist objectives with nationalist goals, especially in pre-industrial countries like Guinea.

Mao on Chinese Nationalism

  • Objectives of the Chinese Revolution: Mao believed that nationalism played a pivotal role in achieving the two major objectives of the Chinese Revolution: overthrowing foreign imperialists and unifying China.

  • Transition to Socialism: Mao's transition from nationalism to socialism shaped his policies and strategies, with a contextual approach to nationalism in developing countries.

  • Collaboration with National Bourgeoisie: Mao was willing to collaborate with certain factions of the national bourgeoisie during the national liberation period to serve the revolution's goals.

Gandhi on Indian Nationalism

  • Unique Ideology: Gandhi's concept of Indian nationalism was influenced by his experiences in South Africa and his deep-rooted philosophical beliefs.

  • Spiritual and Cultural Revival: He believed in the socio-cultural unity of India, deriving its value from both spiritual roots and aspirations of the educated middle class.

  • Emphasis on Non-Violence: Gandhi's nationalism emphasized non-violent resistance as a powerful tool to achieve freedom and establish democratic values.


  • Diverse Perspectives: Nationalism in India, Africa, and China was shaped by unique historical, socio-cultural, economic, and political contexts, differing from European nationalism.

  • Evolution of Nationalism: Unlike the European concept of a nation based on language and culture, nationalism in these regions evolved in complex backgrounds, often as a dialect in the struggle for freedom.

  • Impact on Development: Colonialism in Africa delayed the development of modern, integrated nations, while nationalism in China and India played pivotal roles in their revolutions and post-independence development.

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May 04
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

amazing notes , easy to understand

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