The Articulation of Nationalism, Identitarianism, and Authoritarianism in Non-Western Societies: The Case of ‘Cosmopolitan Nationalism’ in China

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This study tackles a long-standing and broad problem in the field of nationalism studies: whether some cases or types of nationalism are sociopolitically progressive. This problematic was initially explored via cases of civic nationalism, anticolonial nationalist struggles, the concept of patriotism, and cultural nationalism. Recently, it is increasingly explored via new types of nationalism such as ‘liberal nationalism,’ ‘progressive patriotism,’ and ‘multicultural nationalism.’. This study theoretically delineates a partly similar and emerging type of nationalism: ‘identitarianism nationalism.’ It empirically analyzes it through the case of ‘cosmopolitan nationalists’ (which may be seen as a subtype of identitarianism nationalism) in current China. It finds that Chinese cosmopolitan nationalists articulate nationalism, identitarianism, and authoritarianism. Sometimes and on certain issues, these nationalists are extremely pro-authoritarian. At other times and on other issues, their sociopolitical beliefs, behavior, and stances are almost identical to ‘woke’ and progressive persons in the West. A possible explanation is that the definition of progressivism itself becomes seriously contested in the contemporary multicultural world. For example, identitarianism justifies cosmopolitan nationalists to valorize Chinese tradition and condemn Western liberal political culture as colonial knowledge. But traditional Chinese political culture is heavily authoritarian and undemocratic. The Chinese case may help tackle the long-standing problematic in a novel way. The Chinese case shows that the question of whether nationalism can be progressive (or democratic) is not an entirely empirically solvable one. Scholars who are deeply influenced by identitarianism (and especially postcolonial and decolonial studies) may truly believe that Chinese cosmopolitan nationalism is mainly progressive. Scholars who endorse conventional and non-radical versions of liberalism would likely dismiss Chinese cosmopolitan nationalism as authoritarian and regressive.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2023
EventXX ISA World Congress of Sociology - Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 25 Jun 20231 Jul 2023 (Conference website) (Conference programme)


ConferenceXX ISA World Congress of Sociology
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