When Is Nationalism a Democratic Resource? Lessons from Asia

Deeply divided societies have long been seen as terrible terrain for democracy. Yet some countries across Asia (India, Indonesia) have managed to establish more durable democracies than other similar countries (Pakistan, Malaysia). Why? In my new book project, I argue that a country’s founding national narrative, if inclusive, can be an important resource for overcoming social divisions and stabilising democracy. Focusing an analytic lens on foundational national narratives not only helps explain puzzling regime patterns across Asia but also broadly shapes a country’s democratic prospects across time. In short, inclusive nationalism can be a democratic resource.