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Anticolonial Nationalism From Imagined Communities to Colonial Conflict

  • Julian Go (a1) and Jake Watson (a2)

Abstract

Nationalism in the modern world began in European metropoles but spread throughout the world system in the form of anticolonial nationalism. While many studies have explored the former, this essay systematically examines the latter. Based upon an original database of 124 cases, we test multiple theories that might account for the origins and spread of anticolonial nationalism. We adjudicate between cultural-cognitive approaches emphasizing the discursive bases for national imaginings on the one hand and, on the other, theories that emphasize political-economic dynamics and elite conflict. Our time-series regression analysis suggests that while cultural-cognitive approaches best account for the initial wave of anticolonial nationalism, from 1700 to 1878, theories stressing political-economic dynamics and elite conflict explain anticolonial nationalism in the later wave, from 1879 to 1990. The analysis suggests that theories of nationalism need to be attentive to the historical specificity of their claims.

Le nationalisme dans le monde moderne a émergé dans les métropoles européennes mais s’est rapidement répandu à travers le monde sous la forme d’un nationalisme anticolonial. Si le premier a été exploré par de nombreux travaux, cet essai propose d’examiner de façon systématique le second. À partir d’une base de données originale de 124 cas, l’article met à l’épreuve plusieurs théories qui pourraient expliquer les origines et la propagation du nationalisme anticolonial. Sont particulièrement discutés les mérites relatifs d’une part, des approches culturelles et cognitives centrées sur les bases discursives de l’imaginaire national et, d’autre part, les théories qui mettent l’accent sur la dynamique politico-économique et le conflit des élites. L’analyse de régression en séries chronologiques suggère que, si les approches culturelles et cognitives rendent mieux compte de la vague initiale de nationalisme anticolonial, de 1700 à 1878, les théories soulignant la dynamique politico-économique et les conflits d’élites expliquent de façon plus convaincante le nationalisme anticolonial de 1879 à 1990. L’analyse suggère que les théories du nationalisme doivent être particulièrement attentives à la spécificité historique de leurs affirmations.

Entstanden in den europäischen Großstädten der Neuzeit hat der Nationalismus sich weltweit sehr schnell zu einem antikolonialen Nationalismus entwickelt. Da dem ersten bereits zahlreiche Studien gewidmet wurden, untersucht dieser Beitrag systematisch den zweiten. Aufbauend auf einer ursprünglichen Datenbasis von 124 Fällen analysiert diese Studie mittels verschiedener Theorien die Entstehung und die Verbreitung des antikolonialen Nationalismus. Der Schwerpunkt liegt hier auf der Untersuchung der Verdienste der kulturellen und kognitiven Interpretationsansätze aufbauend auf einer diskursiven, nationalen Vorstellungswelt einerseits und auf Theorien, die politisch-wirtschaftliche Dynamik und den Konflikt zwischen Eliten thematisieren, andererseits. Die Regressionsanalyse chronologischer Serien legt nahe, dass, während kulturell-kognitive Ansätze besser den Ursprung des antikolonialen Nationalismus (1700-1878) darstellen, die Theorien basierend auf politisch-wirtschaftlicher Dynamik und Elitekonflikten treffender den antikolonialen Nationalismus der 1879-1990er Jahre beschreiben. Die Untersuchung verdeutlicht, dass Nationalismustheorien der historischen Besonderheit ihrer Behauptungen größere Beachtung schenken müssen.

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Footnotes

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Alphabetical author listing. The authors thank Elyas Bakhtiari, Jessica Simes, anonymous reviewers for EJS, and the editors of EJS for their helpful suggestions and guidance.

Footnotes

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