Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Sociology

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, 264 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Richard Lachmann

Committee Members

Aaron Major, Ronald Jacobs


National characteristics, British, National characteristics, British, in literature, National characteristics, Chinese, National characteristics, Chinese, in literature, Nationalism and education, Nationalism in literature, Nationalism

Subject Categories



Comparing political speeches and history textbooks in Britain and China from the twentieth century, this study explores the symbolic construction of Chinese and British national identity after the downfall of the empires. In both cases, the decline of the empire and the imperial identity had given the room for the uprising of narrow nationalism, which could be seen respectively in English-centric narratives and Han-centric narratives in the data before and during the World War Two. However, a key difference lay in the building of English nationalism and Han nationalism. The grow of English nationalism was accompanied by a shrinkage of identity, which was brought into the post-war period and pose significant challenge to the integrity of British national identity. In contrast, Han nationalism was strengthened by a belief in the expansiveness of the superior Han culture, which was used to justify the solidarity between Han and non-Han people to legitimize the multi-ethnic concept of modern China. This framework was well-inherited by the Communist regime after 1949, though the name of Han is hiding behind the banner of Chinese nation. This study is an example of how historical perspective can be compatible with the paradigm of social constructionism.

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