Nationalism in Europe & America: Politics, Cultures, and Identities since 1775

Nationalism in Europe & America: Politics, Cultures, and Identities since 1775

Nationalism in Europe & America: Politics, Cultures, and Identities since 1775

Nationalism in Europe & America: Politics, Cultures, and Identities since 1775

Synopsis

Examining the history of nationalism's pervasive influence on modern politics and cultural identities, Lloyd Kramer discusses how nationalist ideas gained emotional and cultural power after the revolutionary upheavals in the late eighteenth-century Atlantic world.

Nationalism in Europe and America analyzes the multiple historical contexts and intellectual themes that have shaped modern nationalist cultures, including the political claims for national sovereignty, the emergence of nationalist narratives in historical writing and literature, the fusion of nationalism and religion, and the overlapping conceptions of gender, families, race, and national identities. Kramer emphasizes the similarities in American and European nationalist thought, showing how European ideas about land, history, and national destiny flourished in the United States while American ideas about national independence and political rights reappeared among European nationalists and also influenced the rise of anticolonial nationalisms in twentieth-century Asia and Africa. By placing nationalist ideas and conflicts within the specific, cross-cultural framework of Atlantic history and extending his analysis to the twentieth-century world wars, Kramer offers readers a thoughtful perspective on nationalism's enduring political and cultural importance throughout the modern world.

Excerpt

Nationalism has decisively influenced world history for more than two centuries. Although it first developed its distinctive modern characteristics in late eighteenth-century America and Europe, it has spread rapidly across every part of the world, absorbing or intersecting with other ideologies such as romanticism, liberalism, conservatism, socialism, and ancient religions. Nationalist movements and ideologies have helped to reshape modern descriptions of human identity, and they have arguably contributed to more violent conflicts than any other political or ideological force in the contemporary world. Despite frequent predictions of nationalism’s impending decline, people everywhere continue to describe their personal lives and social communities in the context of national cultures. There are numerous definitions for the meaning of nationalism, and, as the following chapters will argue, there are multiple layers of nationalist cultures. In the most general terms, however, nationalism can be defined as the widely held belief that people living in particular geographical spaces share distinctive cultural and historical traditions and have the right to live in an independent political state.

This book examines the history of nationalism since the late eighteenth century, focusing on political and cultural themes that constantly reappear in modern nationalist thought. The overall argument therefore emphasizes similarities in the nationalisms of various societies and historical eras. Although the specific claims about national identities or histories differ in each society, the underlying structures of nationalist thought show remarkable continuities across time. All national identities, for example, emerge through repeated descriptions of national cultural differences, national geographical spaces, and the history of famous national events. There are also historical continuities in the inextricable nationalist connections between politics and culture, in the overlap of American and European nationalist themes, in the linkage of national . . .

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