Politics in Minutes (2016)

Anti-colonial and post-colonial nationalism

In their struggle for independence from the empires of the old European powers, many countries experienced a surge in nationalism – an assertion of their specific national identities. Interestingly, in the USA – the first nation to successfully break from colonial rule – it was the settlers rather than the indigenous population who led the revolt. These were mainly European emigrants, inspired by Enlightenment ideas of rights and freedom, so the nationalism they inspired was civic rather than ethnic.

Elsewhere inspired by the American revolt, the nationalist movements in South America and the Caribbean, and later in Africa, followed ethnic lines, which are still reflected in the nationalist politics of those countries today. Nationalist movements also emerged in Europe in the 19th century as countries sought to break from the Ottoman and Russian empires, and more recently as eastern European countries asserted their independence from the Soviet bloc.