While the causes of nationalism have long been studied within a global framework, the global and regional circulation of ideas, practices and institutions and the power structures that sustain and continuously reshape nationalism have been less well understood. The formulation of the system of nation-states, such as the Westphalian order or the contemporary UN, while useful in understanding international relations, is quite inadequate to explain the depth of the global and regional constitution of nations. Similarly, while Benedict Anderson’s conception of ‘modular nationalism’ – where later nationalisms are successively modeled on earlier ones – represents an original insight, it is considerably underspeciﬁed as to who borrowed what, when and why. The view from East Asia during the twentieth century shows that many
internal developments in the national societies of China, Japan and Korea cannot be understood apart from the global circulation of capital, institutions and ideas. These circulations represent a processual dynamic where developments inside the nation constantly interweave with those outside, and the nation cannot be seen as the a priori ground of history. These circulations are also mediated by regional interactions that bind nations together in rivalry and interdependence. I will try to show that my conceptual formulation of the global and regional constitution of nations allows a better grasp of certain key problems of nationalism: the relationship between historical change and national structure, and the relationship between state and popular nationalisms.