Nationalism and Religion

Peter van der Veer

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 and Religion


Both nationalism and religion are transformations of pre-modern traditions and identities. Religion is nationalized in modern times. Religions are made a part of national identity and histories of religious conflict have to be tailored to fit a tale of national unity. Besides nationalized religion we find secular nationalism as well as explicitly religious nationalism in the modern period. There are crucial differences between states in terms of their relative secularity in the fields of law and governance, but also crucial differences between societies in terms of their relative secularity in fields of religious organization and religious practices. These differences between states and societies are not evenly mapped onto each other. Nationalism and religion are intimately connected to processes of globalization. The emergence of the universal category of ‘religion’ and ‘world religion’ is a product of the imperial encounter. The modern forms of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and Taoism and their relations with national identity are all produced in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Keywords: Religion; nationalism; secularization; globalization; imperialism; democracy; world religions; Christianity; Islam; Buddhism; Hinduism; Confucianism; Taoism

Article.  8161 words. 

Subjects: History ; World History

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