Cultural Nationalism in East Asia: Representation and Identity

Cultural Nationalism in East Asia: Representation and Identity

Cultural Nationalism in East Asia: Representation and Identity

Cultural Nationalism in East Asia: Representation and Identity

Excerpt

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 triggered a spate of nationalist movements from one end of the union to the other, resulting in declarations of independence by most of the former republics and autonomous regions. The downfall of Pax Sovietica destabilized Eastern Europe and triggered bloody and tragic nationalist uprisings in Yugoslavia. Nationalism became a phenomenon to be reported in the media almost daily.

Despite the media's focus on European nationalism, it is a ubiquitous phenomenon, not one limited to Europe. Nationalism supports the Israeli state vis-à-vis the surrounding Arab nations, for instance. Nationalism boosted U.S. president George Bush's popularity at home during the Gulf War against Iraq. Nationalism aroused British citizens in the war against Argentina over the Falkland Islands.

East Asia, too, has its share of nationalism. It is expressed, for instance, in Korean dissidents' anti-American demonstrations in the streets of Seoul; China's anti-imperial Cultural Revolution, which gripped the nation in the 1960s and 1970s; and Japan's ultra-Right campaigns blaring "revere the emperor" slogans from trucks parked at busy street corners.

Historically, nationalist movements began in the late eighteenth century; they spread throughout Europe and to the rest of the world, and nationalism has stayed with us ever since. It is one of the most pernicious, relentless, pervasive, and tenacious political phenomena we have known. The world can no longer be conceived without it. International organizations such as the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are not steps toward dissolution of nations and their unavoidably allied nationalism. On the contrary, these organizations are an affirmation of nationalism insofar as they are designed as forums to express and protect national interests. For good or ill (and for most part, ill), as . . .

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