Nationalism

In the field of African American studies, the term “nationalism” is far more evocative than “advocacy or support for” the nation. Instead, it encompasses a rich history of Black political thought and resistance. Such nationalism focuses on the acquisition of a territorial homeland—­a nation—­but also Pan-­Africanism, a continental vision of African unity and Black consciousness. It has inspired a social, political, spiritual, and cultural identification with Blackness situated in a now largely discredited theory of racialism that genetically connected all Black peoples.

As long as nation-­states exist, “nationalism” as a keyword will have sociopolitical meaning. Until the dismantlement of imperial and colonial structures and until people can point to a distinct cultural heritage, the term will also have cultural currency. Debates, over Jerusalem and the occupied territory in the Middle East and the Baltic republics and Armenia and Azerbaijan in the former Soviet Union, for example, will always have meaning …

This essay may be found on page 121 of the printed volume.

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