New Forms of Nationalism in the 20th Century


Nationalism is a form of group identity that arose during the French Revolution and Napoleonic period. It provides people with a form of identity based on a common language, culture, historical situation, and religion or race. Such of form of identity would not have been possible without the development of mass communication.


In the 20th century new forms of nationalism emerged. Hitler based German nationalism on racial purity, authoritarian rule, and Germanyís mythic pre-Christian past. After the Second World War, most of the new forms of nationalism were driven by independence movements in the wake of de-colonization. As people strove to free themselves from their European colonizers, they created national identities to distinguish themselves from their oppressors. Some of these identities were based on race, some on religion or culture, and some were entangled in the Cold War struggle, but all were connected in some way with the drive for independence. The chart below helps to organize the various nationalisms coming out of the independence\anti-colonial movement and gives some of the important characteristics of each. This is prime APWH essay material.




and Key Terms

Nationalism based on . . .

Problems in the drive for independence

Results of independence movement


Rowlatt Act

Indian National Congress

Muslim League


Salt March (Walk to Sea)


Desire to break from British rule. Nationalism emanating primarily from educated middle and elite classes. Mass movement made possible by British educational policies of late 19th century, providing a common language and body of knowledge

British tempted Indians with independence for their aid in World Wars, broke promises after war. British wanted to keep empire (Rowlatt Act, Churchill). Muslims, who were the minority, felt they wouldnít get equal treatment by ruling Hindu majority. Thus India had sharp religious divisions between Muslims and Hindus.

India gained independence in 1947. Gandhi was assassinated in 1948. India was partitioned immediately after independence into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan. War broke out immediately over province of Kashmir. Today India and Pakistan both have nuclear weapons.

Middle East

Balfour Declaration

Mandate system

Gamal Nasser

Suez Crisis

Wars against Israel



Strong desire to free Palestine from European and American imperialism and to destroy the state of Israel. Pan-Arabism (under Nasser) then later on, for some, it was based on fundamentalist Islam.

US support of Israel. Quick defeat and loss of territory after attacking Israel (Six Day and Yom Kippur Wars). Failure of Pan-Arabism. Israel settlement in Palestine, and the State of Israel.

Continued violence between Palestinians and Israelis. Middle eastern anti imperial sentiments now aimed at the United States.

Southeast Asia


Domino theory

Geneva Convention


Vietnamese independence from France, and then the US. After giving up on the western powers, Ho Chi Minh turned to communism.

The US viewed the Vietnamese drive for independence in terms of the Cold War. They thought if it fell others in Southeast Asia would follow (domino theory).Fought for 20 years for independence. Used guerilla warfare.

North and South Vietnam united, formed the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. After War there was humanitarian and economic turmoil; massive refugee problem as many fled. Agriculture was collectivized.




Jomo Kenyatta

Algerian war of Independence

Charles de Gaulle

Independence from European powers and attempt to carve out African identity. Negritude, or African national pride, was supported by African poets, writers and artists.

Many Africans did not receive the education other colonial people did (usually only got it from missionaries.) Those who resisted independence the most were white settlers (descendents of Europeans) who had much to lose by severing ties to their homeland. In Kenya, the people rose up against the British who exploited their labor and land in the production of coffee and tea. The Algerians revolted from French rule using guerilla warfare.

Many African colonies gained independence but had no experience with self rule. They were plagued with dictators and civil wars. Many had border disputes because the European colonizers had outlined colonies with no concern for African ethnic lines. After bloody fighting from 1954-1962, President Charles De Gaulle granted Algerian their independence. Ten percent of the population fled Algeria for France, eventually challenging Franceís ethnic and religious identity.



Ayatollah Khomeini

Iran-Iraq War

US hostages

Fundamentalist Shia Islam, the rejection of western values and American imperialism

Strove to free themselves from American influence and a pro-American Shah. When deposed Shah went to US, American hostages were taken in Tehran. Shortly after Revolution (1979) Iraq invaded to end the attempt to create a Shia state.

Ayatollah Khomeini came to power and established a strict Shia state based on anti-western values. Women gained some greater access to education, but as a rule lost many personal liberties. Veiling became mandatory. The revolution provoked an invasion by Saddam Hussein.