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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Nativistic movements in three culture areas : a test of Slotkin's theory of nationalism Luth, Dietrich


Nationalism among subject peoples in territories which are or have been at one time colonized by Europeans has generally been associated with political activity and the formation of parties. Slotkin, however has advanced a theory in 1956 which postulates nativistic movements as being the media of nationalism among non-literate peoples, consequently a form of nationalism may be present among a people who possess no formal political power over their affairs. Further, in the light of Slotkin's theory, the absence of formal political activity among subject peoples does not presuppose the absence of nationalism. Slotkin’s theory postulates the existence of a dominance-subordination relation between Europeans and Natives in colonial and other contexts of acculturation where two ethnic groups live in face-to-face contact with each other and where one of these groups is the dominant groupe. The dominance-subordination relation is believed to generate nationalism in the subordinate group, which exercising no effective political power over its affairs, expresses its feelings through nativistic movements which heretofore had been considered as purely "religious'* phenomena. The data required to test the theory are drawn from the three culture areas of Africa, North America and Oceania in each of which nativistic movements have occurred. The findings from the three areas are incorporated into a general theory of movement-based nationalism. The limits of Slotkin’s theory are established within the general theory above. Subject to qualifications concerning scale, Slotkin’s theory was found to be valid as regards the North American culture area and inadequate to cope with the data when extended further. This is due to the fact that the nationalism of North American Indians was based solely on nativistic movements and that of Africans and Oceanians had other bases besides nativism. Steps towards a modification of Slotkin’s theory, as well as the problems attendant to the formulation of an adequate theory of nationalism, are pointed out.

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