National Identity

The idea that individual people ‘belong’ to a particular nation or that their identities are partly defined by nationality has widespread commonsense currency and significant implications for people’s lives, and their sense of themselves and others. The definition of national identity is complicated by the fact that both conjoined terms, ‘national’ and ‘identity’, are contested and variously understood. First, it is premised on the concept of the ‘nation-state’, a relatively new political formation in human history, emerging in Europe in the 19th century and subsequently elsewhere, through processes such as the colonial ‘scramble for Africa’ that artificially divided and united different ethnic communities to form nations. While social formations of political and legal relations existed all over the globe prior to this, they were relatively ...

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