Why do need to study and interpret a history with a nationalist perspective?


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Daniel Pountney answered
We need to study history with a nationalist perspective because all texts are biased in some way. It's important when reading history not just to consider what you are reading about but who wrote it.

  • What is a nationalist perspective?
Nationalism is an ideology in which a group identifies itself through its views on ideals that relate to their nation. What nation constitutes isn't necessarily a country, although this is the most likely definition. It can also encompass ethnic and cultural groups. Whatever the definition though, it is something that gives a group its identity.

  • Is nationalism offensive?
It can be but doesn't have to be. The problem with nationalism is that is can be confused with racism both by the people who are nationalistic and the people who are observing them. There's surely nothing wrong with loving the place where you live or where you were born, celebrating its achievements and working for its future. However, when this is to the detriment of groups that don't fit in to the nationalist ideal, racism can be the effect.
  • Nationalist perspectives in history
When someone is writing about an historical event or period, they inevitably bring their own bias to it. Sometimes this can be nationalistic as people want to celebrate the successes of their homeland, or point to lessons learned from the past in the hope of influencing the future in line with their ideals.

  • Examples of a nationalist perspective in historical reading
Mein Kampf by Hitler springs to mind. It's a political book with aspects of history in it. If you read it though, you can't take it as truth. It is one man's version of what happened - a man who writes with an extreme nationalist perspective you might say.

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