Insisting on a radical divide between post-1750 ideologies in Europe and earlier political thought in both Europe and Asia, modernist scholars of nationalism have called attention, quite justifiably, to European nationalisms’ unique focus on popular sovereignty, legal equality, territorial fixity, and the primacy of secular over universal religious loyalties. Yet this essay argues that nationalism also shared basic developmental and expressive features with political thought in pre-1750 Europe as well as in rimland—that is to say outlying—sectors of Asia. Polities in Western Europe and rimland Asia were all protected against Inner Asian occupation, all enjoyed relatively cohesive local geographies, and all experienced economic and social pressures to integration that were not only sustained but surprisingly synchronized throughout the second millennium. In Western Europe and rimland Asia each major state came to identify with a named ethnicity, specific artifacts became badges of inclusion, and central ethnicity expanded and grew more standardized. Using Myanmar and pre-1750 England/Britain as case studies, this essay reconstructs these centuries-long similarities in process and form between “political ethnicity,” on the one hand, and modern nationalism, on the other. Finally, however, this essay explores cultural and material answers to the obvious question: if political ethnicities in Myanmar and pre-1750 England/Britain were indeed comparable, why did the latter realm alone generate recognizable expressions of nationalism? As such, this essay both strengthens and weakens claims for European exceptionalism.