Nationalism in Southeast Asia

Nationalism in Southeast Asia

Nationalism in Southeast Asia

Nationalism in Southeast Asia


Tarling seeks to define nationalism by examining its role in the history of Southeast Asia. He explores nation-building in the post-colonial era, & the relationships between nationalism & both the democratic aspirations associated with winning independence & with authoritarianism in the late 20th century.




In the previous chapter the author searched for a compendious definition of nationalism. That his sources helped him to find in a sense of community. Its origins would lie at once in the decay or diminution of the sense of belonging to other forms of community or in the sense that, without being displaced, they were no longer adequate on their own, no longer offered sufficient security, sufficient assurance; and in the availability of alternative options and models. The older forms of community would be disrupted by economic or political forces, by economic change, by imperial takeover. But, perhaps at the same time, there would be glimpses of an alternative, possibly provided through those forces, and more generally through the increasing globalisation of communications and the evidence that a world of nations was emerging. The outcome could be the creation of an independent state. But that was not the end of the matter. Nationalism both worked to sustain the independent state and provoked opposition to it, and that also took place in an 'international' context. The states were ruled as nations, but other nations or would-be nations aspired to independence, too, replicating the earlier process, but amid an advancing globalisation that in some ways at least wished to by-pass the current nation-states and amid a communications revolution that gave 'minorities' new opportunities. The author added that, like other historical events, the emergence of nationalism and the nation-state cannot be satisfactorily explained simply as a matter of process. The decisions men took in given circumstances are part of the story.

The purpose of the present chapter is to consider ways in which the tentative definition of nationalism may be validated or amplified by placing it more fully in historical and geographical contexts. Surveying its general development since the later eighteenth century, even briefly, may help to sustain or qualify the definition. It may also help in considering the attempts that have been made to offer taxonomies and typologies of nationalisms and schema for the development of nationalist movements. They may be distinguished by timing, not merely by character, and compared within different chronological frameworks. Advancing the definition in these ways should also facilitate attempts subsequently to apply it to

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