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A History of World Societies, Sixth Edition
Web Exercises
Chapter 30: Nationalism in Asia, 1914-1939

In the early twentieth century, nationalism emerged as a crucial force in Asia, much as it had in the nineteenth century in Europe. Leaders and movements emerged across the continent whose aim was the creation of strong nation states. These nationalist movements borrowed many European ideas. In particular, the transformation of the Soviet Union from a rural, agrarian nation to a leading industrial power during the 1920s and 1930s fired many Asian minds. Nationalists leaders in Asia appealed to older, indigenous traditions as well. These movements dramatically shaped world history in the twentieth century and were a powerful challenge to Western imperialism. (See Chapter 27, "Africa and Asia in the Era of Western Industrialization, 1800-1914.") They also showed a darker side of nationalistic ideology: some of the worst human rights atrocities of the twentieth century were committed in Asia between 1914 and 1939 in the name of nationalism.

Helpful Hints:
  • You may want to begin by printing this page. As you explore different sites, use the printout to refer back to the instructions and questions detailed in each activity.
  • On many web sites you can increase the size of the images by clicking on them. Whenever possible, use the larger images to examine fine details in photographs.
Activity One:
  • The father of modern Chinese nationalism is Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925). For a brief biography of Sun, see Asia Now: Sun Yat-sen. Read more about Sun Yat-sen at Modern China: Sun Yat-sen. Analyze the influence of Western ideas on Sun's vision for China's future. Describe Sun's use of Chinese history to inspire his followers. Explain the impact of the Bolshevik Revolution on Sun's strategies for national liberation in China. (Pay attention to his ideas on organization.)
Activity Two:
  • Sun Yat-sen failed to see his dream of a united and strongly independent China before his death. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a contemporary of Sun's, did manage to oversee the development of a modern nation state in Turkey. For more on Ataturk, see Mustafa Kemal : Ataturk's Life. Also read portions of a speech he gave at the National Convention of the "People's Party of the Republic" held in Ankara between 15 and 20 October 1927 at The Speech: Part I and The Speech: Part IV. While reading these sources, keep the same objectives from Activity One in mind. Analyze the influence of Western ideas on Ataturk's vision for Turkey's future. Describe Ataturk's use of Turkish history to inspire his followers. Explain the impact of the Bolshevik Revolution on Ataturk's strategies for national liberation in China. (Pay attention to his ideas on organization of the state.)
Activity Three:
  • After completing Activities One and Two, compare and contrast Sun Yat-sen and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. What is similar in their ideology of national liberation? What is different? What is similar about the problems they confronted in their goal of national liberation? What is different? What successes and failures did they have in their efforts to create modern nation states in China and Turkey?
Activity Four: Activity Five: Activity Six:
  • Sun Yat-sen, Ataturk, Ho Chi Minh, and Mao Zedong are examples of budding nationalist movements in Asia in the interwar years. These movements inspired millions of Asians to fight for independence and/or the creation of new societies. Unfortunately, they often resulted in "brutal conflict," as the authors of McKay, A History of World Societies (Fifth Edition), state on page 953. One example of this brutality was Armenian genocide at the hands of Turkish nationalists between 1915 and 1930. To learn about this terrible episode in world history, go to The Armenian National Institute: The Armenian Genocide. Also see The Armenian National Institute: The Armenian Genocide: Context and Legacy. For images, see Pictures of the Armenian Genocide. (Warning: These pictures are extremely graphic.)
  • While reading these essays, keep the following objectives and questions in mind. Define genocide. How is genocide different from massacres? What role did modern technology play in the Armenian genocide? Explain the role of nationalism in this episode; in other words, why was there a growing sense of both Armenian and Turkish nationalism in the Ottoman Empire in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century? Why were the Young Turks threatened by Armenian nationalism? Compare and contrast the Ataturk regime's policy toward the Armenians to those of the Young Turks.
Activity Seven:
  • Another example of "brutal conflict" in response to rising nationalism was the Nanking massacre in 1937. For more information, go to Nanking 1937 (click on "history" and read the text); for images, see Photos of the Massacre. (Warning: These pictures are extremely graphic.) As these sites suggest, the Nanking massacre was a bloody incident in the larger war between China and Japan during the 1930s and 1940s. For more information on the Japanese invasion of China go to Japanese expansionism (use the hyperlinks for additional information).  What forces in Japanese politics and society led to the Nanking massacre?