VI. The World Wars and the Interwar Period, 1914–1945 > A. Global and Comparative Dimensions > 2. Nationalist Options
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
2. Nationalist Options
In the areas dominated by the major powers and empires, the first half of the 20th century was a time when nationalist movements began to be important throughout the world. In the 19th century, nationalist movements had been most effective and active in Europe. The advocacy of the right of self-determination which was part of the World War I settlement created a number of new nationally identified states in Europe but maintained imperial control in much of the rest of the world.  1
MIDDLE EAST. Movements for assertion of national identities had developed in the late 19th century in Egypt and Persia (Iran), and among Turks in the Ottoman Empire. In the Arab lands of southwest Asia and French North Africa, there was little Arab nationalism until World War I. Following World War I, major nationalist movements developed in Turkey under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (See 1919, May 19), in Persia under Reza Shah Pahlevi, and in Egypt under the Wafd Party of Sa'd Zaghloul. In French North Africa, the Destour Party and then the Neo-Destour Party in Tunisia and less well structured efforts elsewhere presented nationalist programs, as did intellectuals in the states that had been created as League of Nations mandates in the Middle East—Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine. All of these nationalist movements tended to express their goals in terms of Wilsonian liberal democracy. They sought self-determination, recognized popular sovereignty, and tried to create independent parliamentary political systems. All also advocated programs of rapid modernization following explicitly Western European models. Fascism and communism had limited appeal or support. The real conflict was between nationalist aspirations and imperialist power. Only in the new Turkish republic under Atatürk, and, to a lesser extent, in Persia (Iran), were nationalists able to achieve effective political independence and implement modernization programs of their own rather than an imposed definition.  2
AFRICA. The interwar period was from some perspectives the heyday of European imperialism in Africa. Major concepts of imperial governance like Indirect Rule were developed by the British, and there was little expectation that imperial rule would end before a long period of time had elapsed. The units of imperial control had been created by the processes of European imperial expansion and had little relationship to the ethnic and cultural identities of the subject peoples. In the interwar period there were, however, small groups of educated Africans who began to call for independence and did so in nationalist terms, calling for the independence of the existing imperialist-created state. In the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan a Graduates Congress was formed in 1938 and advocated nationalist aims, presenting a list of demands to the British in 1942. In Kenya during the 1920s there was the Kikuyu Central Association, which sought the return of land taken by British settlers, but its leaders, like the later nationalist Jomo Kenyatta, were not actively nationalist in the interwar era. In general terms, educated Africans in all colonies expressed desires for self-determination and effective political participation, but effective nationalist movements did not emerge until after World War II.  3
PAN-AFRICAN movements did not have much support in Africa itself, but in the U.S., African-American organizations supported various types of Pan-Africanism and possible return to Africa. The most important advocates of these ideas were W.E.B. DuBois early in the century, and Marcus Garvey in the Universal Negro Improvement Association in the 1920s. A religious form of American black nationalism was formulated by Elijah Muhammad in the organization of the Nation of Islam in the 1930s.  4
SOUTH ASIA. In India, there was a well-established nationalist movement by the beginning of the 20th century. The Indian National Congress had been founded in 1885 with the goal of securing for Indians a greater role in their government. In the interwar period, especially under the dramatic nonviolent leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, the nationalist movement gained great strength. The Muslim League, founded in 1906, originally worked closely with Congress to secure Indian self-government. During the interwar period, Indian Muslim feelings of identity and fear of Hindu domination in an independent India led the Muslim League to advocate establishing an independent Muslim state in South Asia to be called Pakistan. Following World War II in 1947, when British India became independent it was partitioned into Pakistan and the Republic of India.  5
EAST ASIA. In the colonial areas of East Asia there were some beginnings of modern nationalism. In the Philippines, the period of rule by the U.S. began with a bloody war of Philippine resistance (1898–1901) and ended with the establishment of commonwealth status in the late 1930s and the Japanese conquest during World War II. Nationalist resistance to French rule in Indochina, Dutch rule in Indonesia, and British control in various southeast Asia lands began to be expressed in the interwar era but with only limited success until World War II, when the defeat of the imperial powers by Japan inspired local nationalists.  6
Japan's role. Japan had an important international role in the development of nationalist movements during the first half of the 20th century. The success of the program of rapid modernization set in motion by the Meiji Revolution in the 19th century inspired reformist nationalists like Atatürk in Turkey. Japan's victory in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 had a major impact in showing that European imperial powers could be defeated. In World War II, the Japanese conquest of the French, British, Dutch, and American possessions in East and Southeast Asia opened the way for wartime puppet states to set precendents for later demands for independence. In addition, the expansion of Japan's own imperial strength aroused the fears of Japan's historic rivals, China and Korea, and provided a negative impulse for the development of nationalism in China under the Kuomintang led by Jiang Jieshi. In Korea, following its annexation by Japan in 1910, nationalist resistance took a number of forms, including the establishment of a Korean provisional government in exile whose president in 1919 was Syngman Rhee, who became the first president of South Korea in the republic created by the U.S. following World War II.  7
Nationalist ideologies in the first half of the 20th century tended to be based on the Wilsonian liberal democratic vision of the world. It was not until the time of the Cold War following World War II that more Communist-style perspectives became important in developing nationalist movements and visions.  8
a. Globalization of Culture
The period between the two world wars was a time when many aspects of human life and experience became more global in style or mode of operation. The Great Depression showed the global nature of important economic aspects of life, but this was also part of many aspects of social and cultural life. These tendencies could be seen in sports, entertainment, and literature.  9
1. Sports
The organizational and social context of sports became significantly globalized in the first half of the 20th century. The sports involved the establishment of significant international organizations both of athletes and of competitions. The International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) (founded 1913) became a major global institution by mid-20th century. THE MODERN OLYMPIC GAMES became major global events in the interwar era. The Berlin Olympics of 1936 were an attempt by Hitler to glorify the new racist Nazi state but this failed when an African-American athlete, Jesse Owens, won four gold medals. The Olympics were extended to include winter games in 1924. The London Olympics of 1948 were a celebration of the Allied victory in World War II as well as an athletic event.  10
Major individual sports also became globalized, with the world's most widely viewed sport of SOCCER, or Association Football, reflecting the broader history. Following World War I, association football became a major feature of social recreational life, especially in Europe and Latin America. The first World Cup competition was held in 1930 and was won by Uruguay. International competitions were interrupted by World War II but quickly resumed following the war.  11
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.