Nationalism, nationalistic demos and democracy: East asian experiences

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This research is an attempt to offer a new theoretical framework to understand the political dynamics of East Asian nationalism(s), a topic overlooked by both historians and political scientists. The political dynamics of nationalism shown in the two historical case studies investigated here, the bottom-up ultra-right-wing nationalism in 1930s Japan and the anti-state left-wing/anti-imperial nationalism in 1980s Korea, poses a strong anti-thesis against our commonsensical understanding of nationalism. From the Eurocentric perspectives, the nationalist projects of nation-making always create a homogeneous – either real or fictive – population that is willing to fight and die for the state. The historical case studies shown in this study, however, refute the monolithic interpretation ofnationalism in the modern history. Assuming that the nation-making projects in Japan and Korea were very successful, the histories of 1930s Japan and 1980s Korea show a hidden face of nationalism – the more nationalized, the more rebellious – as the nationalized subjects claimed ownership of the state. The experiences of nationalistic fever in Japan and Korea provide a prism to analyze contemporary Chinese neo-nationalism, which has become one of the most important research subjects in China. The experiences of Japan and Korea suggest that the only outcome we can predict from the surge of nationalism is the vitiated and weakened state capability to control the ideological realm of the society. Therefore, we can expect that the surge of nationalistic sentiments from the bottom up in Chinese societies pose a threat to the domestic stability managed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-311
Number of pages37
JournalContemporary Chinese Political Economy and Strategic Relations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Apr

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Institute of China and Asia-Pacific Studies - National Sun Yat-sen University. All Rights Reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Political Science and International Relations


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