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date: 22 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Nationalism is usually conceived of as a state-oriented political project. There has been much less scholarly focus on nationalists whose primary aim is the formation of national communities. In this chapter I argue that we need to give more attention to cultural nationalist movements that precede or accompany state-oriented nationalisms. Originating amongst historicist intellectuals, these movements may develop into significant ethno-historical ‘revivals’ promoting a national language, literature and the arts, educational activities, and economic self-help. Such activities have often been dismissed as surrogate politics, as socially reactionary, and as transient phenomena that fade after independence. I will argue that their goal is not so much political (that is, state-seeking) as the formation of a moral community, promoted through the idiom of regeneration, that these movements are socially innovative, and that they recur periodically even after independence has been achieved, seeking to redefine the identity of political communities. The focus of this chapter will be on the history of such movements.

Keywords: Ethnic revivalism, national identity, regeneration, originality, golden age, homelands, vernacularization, communitarian, moral innovators, culture wars

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