Nationalism in East Asia, 1839–1945

Rana Mitter

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Nationalism

Published in print March 2013 | ISBN: 9780199209194
Published online May 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

Nationalism in East Asia, 1839–1945

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  • Asian History
  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)



Nationalism emerged in East Asia as a result of the influx of Western-derived political thought in the nineteenth century, but its formation drew heavily on pre-existing notions of identity. In Japan, the Meiji Restoration of 1868 set the path for a modern, state-driven nationalism that would underpin the country’s economic and diplomatic resurgence as an imperial power. China, in contrast, was unable to repel foreign incursions, and used nationalism to articulate resistance to the domination of the country by other powers. Resistance to Japanese imperialism also shaped Korean nationalism during this period. From the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, key shapers of nationalism in East Asia included ideas of race, Social Darwinism, and pan-Asianism. World War II was a confrontation between various types of nationalism in China in particular, with ‘collaborationist’ models losing out to those that articulated strong resistance to domination by the West or Japan, in particular Chinese communism.

Keywords: Chiang Kaishek; Manchuria; Mao Zedong; March First Movement; May Fourth Movement; Meiji Restoration; Okakura Tenshin; Pan-Asianism; Social Darwinism; Sino-Japanese War; Syngman Rhee; Sun Yatsen; Wang Jingwei

Article.  10599 words. 

Subjects: History ; Asian History ; Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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