AbstractInsisting on a radical divide between post-1750 ideologies in Europe and earlier political thought in both Europe and Asia, modernist scholars of nationalism have called attention, quite justifiably, to European nationalisms’ unique focus on popular sovereignty, legal equality, territorial fixity, and the primacy of secular over universal religious loyalties. Yet this essay argues that nationalism also shared basic developmental and expressive features with political thought in pre-1750 Europe as well as in rimland—that is to say outlying—sectors of Asia. Polities in Western Europe and rimland Asia were all protected against Inner Asian occupation, all enjoyed relatively cohesive local geographies, and all experienced economic and social pressures to integration that were not only sustained but surprisingly synchronized throughout the second millennium. In Western Europe and rimland Asia each major state came to identify with a named ethnicity, specific artifacts became badges of inclusion, and central ethnicity expanded and grew more standardized. Using Myanmar and pre-1750 England/Britain as case studies, this essay reconstructs these centuries-long similarities in process and form between “political ethnicity,” on the one hand, and modern nationalism, on the other. Finally, however, this essay explores cultural and material answers to the obvious question: if political ethnicities in Myanmar and pre-1750 England/Britain were indeed comparable, why did the latter realm alone generate recognizable expressions of nationalism? As such, this essay both strengthens and weakens claims for European exceptionalism.


  • Fourteenth-century literary sources presented the kingdom of England as a discrete moral and spiritual entity whose people were collectively responsible to ensure the welfare of the realm by remaining in God’s favor.[44]

  • Disseminating vernacular translations of the Bible and proclaiming themselves and their followers to be the new Israel, zealous Protestants helped to nationalize sanctity and pioneered an anti-Catholic patriotism which energized English/British opposition to Spain and France and which has been termed “the most consistent English political stance of the early modern period.”[59]. Yet, ironically, because the upheavals of 1534– 1688 showed the toxicity of sectarian enthusiasm and because the Church of England found itself forced to cohabit with dissenters and Catholic recusants, in the long term the Reformation had the unintended effect of encouraging a degree of tolerance

  • This essay argues that nationalism shared basic developmental and expressive features with political thought in pre-1750 Europe as well as in rimland—that is to say outlying—sectors of Asia

Read more



The Shan, Mon, and Burmese worlds, in each case, were far too politically and culturally fragmented to support a stable, overarching ethnic loyalty.


Full Text

Published Version
Open DOI Link

Get access to 115M+ research papers

Discover from 40M+ Open access, 2M+ Pre-prints, 9.5M Topics and 32K+ Journals.

Sign Up Now! It's FREE

Talk to us

Join us for a 30 min session where you can share your feedback and ask us any queries you have

Schedule a call