Nationalism and the ‘Politics of National Identity’
This chapter deals with a discussion of the conceptual issues of nationalism, national identity and identity politics to frame the historical developments of nationalism and shifting national identity in Bangladesh. In 1971 Bangladesh emerged as a sovereign, independent state embracing the principles of secularism and nationalism. Anthony Smith distinguishes two antagonistic schools of thought about nations and nationalism: the perennialists and the modernists. The contingent nature of nationalism is enmeshed with changes in human society. Nationalism may evolve in certain junctures of historical transformation and, of course, in the emergence of nations, nationalism and national identity. Vernacular nationalism can be taken to be the basis of nationalism in Europe in the nineteenth century, where ‘“national print languages” were of central ideological and political importance’. In the twentieth-century wave of nationalism, the educated middle class, aided by their intellectual spokespersons, played an important role.