Definition of proto-nationalism
Proto-nationalism, with suffix "proto" literally meaning "first," refers to the philosophy that one owes patriotism not to the government of the state he physically resides in, but rather to the tribe, race or sect with which he shares an ancestral origin.
The Back to Africa Movement is one of the clearest examples of proto-nationalism in our history. Feeling spited by institutional bigotry and inspired by a vision of a more idealistic heritage, many African-Americans sought to return to Africa.
Liberia, Sierra Leone and Israel
Two prime examples of proto-national settlements are the African countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone, originally established for the sole purpose of hosting Africans who felt displaced by history. The idea for the nation of Israel, a homeland for the Judaic world, also sprang from a similar ethic.
Impact and Criticism
While many argue proto-nationalism has helped victimised ethnicities rediscover their unique cultural identities, others point to it as a divisive ideology that engenders segregation. The paradigm of the West in the 21st century is largely nationalist, and proto-nationalism thereby creates a competing patriotism.
- The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture: The Back to Africa Movement
- World Statesmen: Liberia
- The Palestine Chronicle: The Invention of the Jewish People
- Israel Science and Technology: A Brief History of Israel and the Jewish People
- Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth, and Reality by E.J. Hobsbawm
- Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images