In the first years of the postcolonial era, students of politics in the new nation- states often assumed that “primordial” ties of kinship, language, ethnicity, and religion would gradually give way to a more encompassing sense of national political community. The emergence of such an expanded civic sense, it was hoped, would be paralleled by the development of economic, educational, and even religious institutions similarly premised on a broader, more socially accommodative, and self-consciously sustained concept of community. The expansion of political and economic opportunities made possible by the departure of European nationals, of course, might result in momentary incidents of communal competition. Ultimately, however, the social bases of conflict and solidarity would shift from their earlier organization to newly created bonds of class and profession, and the potential political divisiveness of these would be constrained by an overarching allegiance to national community and common interests. Although Marxist students of nation building rejected the integrative optimism of this model, they tended to assume that, in Asia as in Europe in earlier centuries, regional, ethnic, and religious allegiances would eventually give way to those of class and economic interest. Politics and social identity in Asia's new states were, in a word, “posttraditional,” and posttraditionalism was, almost by definition, political community in search of a new self.

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