Civic nationalism in postcolonial states: A comparative analysis of civic nationalism in Mauritus, India and Sri Lanka

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Civic Nationalism is the development of national identity for a state, rooted in egalitarian post enlightenment concepts emphasizing humanity and individual rights. Post colonialism, many developing states embarked on the path of civic nation creation, while implementing democracy in order to govern successfully. This dissertation, it is an extension of nationalism studies into the process of post-colonial nation-state building. The question is of why some post-colonial states developed civic nationalism while others developed ethnic or religious nationalism. Upon independence from Britain, former colonies Mauritius, India and Sri Lanka each had multinational populations, which they intended to govern with the creation of civic nationalism and liberal democratic principles. Instead, today each of the three states can clearly be placed in a progression from most civic to least civic. Mauritius is a liberal democracy bound by civic nationalism, India is working on civic nation creation, and Sri Lanka abandoned the civic nation creation project. This dissertation traces why these three nations evolved so differently when each started out in similar circumstances. Why was Mauritius successful in creating a civic nation, while India is still struggling and Sri Lanka devolved into ethnic nationalism? Addressing, whether an attempt was made during the process of nation-state building to create a civic nation and whether the founding fathers were successful in creating the desired civic nation bound by civic nationalism and a liberal democratic state. If a civic state was created by the founding fathers did subsequent political generations work to maintain and perpetuate the civic nation or did civic nationalism die, thus yielding way for illiberal nationalisms? The purpose of this dissertation is to draw out variables that are held in common across either success or failure in state consolidation of a common civic national identity. The dissertation has led to support for the following hypothesis that, the more committed to a civic nation the political and intellectual elite, and the better established the state’s civic, intellectual and educational institutions are at the time of independence and over subsequent generations; the more likely a liberal democratic state will be to establish and maintain civic nationalism.