Saturday, July 20, 2024

Nationalism and Culture

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Nationalism and Culture are related in many ways than one can possibly comprehend, it is necessary to understand them

Nationalism is defined as the love for one’s country and the belief that a country’s interests are of paramount importance vis-a-vis other countries.

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The history of nationalism dates back to the emergence of absolutist monarchies in Europe in the 17th century.

However it not necessary for nationalism to be of just one kind, In The Battle of Belonginga very famous author articulated multiple forms of nationalism-

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  • Ideological nationalism
  • Religious nationalism
  • Linguistic nationalism
  • Cultural nationalism
  • Civic nationalism

Out of these we are going to talk about cultural nationalism.


Culture is regarded as an assortment of our customs, traditions, food and dressing habits, ideas, family values etc. It is the sine qua non of our existence.

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Now culture is a part and parcel of every society irrespective of composition.

A very interesting thing about culture is its fluidity. It changes over time and space.

It is a part of the nurture aspect of human society that Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate pointed out beautifully and urged people to embrace it irrespective of its flaws.

Link Between the Two

Now it is necessary to understand the link between culture and nationalism.

You see culture is a manifestation of human emotions and ideas about their surroundings. Culture is an outcome of human social psychology.

So that human psychology tends to condition the perception of our surroundings in such a way that we tend to identify people into categories like “us” & “them”.

Culture is exactly that, if we understand it from the parochial sense of the term.

Nationalism takes a cultural turn when there is a strong socio-cultural churn in the society.

This churn expresses itself in the need for revisiting our roots, our past and how we lived in the past.

This exactly leads to the resurrection of culture as a mode of furthering one’s national interests.

Hindutva-Cultural Nationalism

The socio-cultural force of Hindutva is perhaps the most beautiful form of cultural nationalism.

Hindutva describes Bharat from a geographical point of view as a land extending from the Himalayas to Indian Ocean and from Indus in the West to Brahmaputra in the East.

But it isn’t really a strict geographical articulation, but a description anchored in the cultural connotation of Hindu or to put it Sanatani people belonging to a common civilization-the Vedic civilization.

Hindutva is inclusive in that it recognizes religions from the point of view of ‘pitribhu’ and ‘punyabhu’.

This is the reason why faiths like Zoroastrianism, Judaism are regarded as Indic despite their point of origin being outside of the Indian subcontinent.

The need of the hour is to enrich this cultural nationalism and promote it among the people of India.

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