It is difficult to speak of mass support for modern nationalist movements before the First World War, despite the existence of groups that opposed European influence.1 Whilst protests in the nineteenth century often attempted to resist the modernising tendencies of British imperialism in the hope of preserving a traditional society, many twentieth-century organisations embraced modernity and even defined themselves by European standards. This generalisation cannot be absolute. Mahatma Gandhi rejected ‘British civilisation’ in the hope of regenerating an older, more spiritual India. In this sense, Gandhi had more in common with some of the nineteenth-century religious leaders who hoped for a purification and restoration of an older, religious order, than with his contemporaries in the Indian National Congress. Some movements combined atavism and modernity, recognising the developments that had accompanied imperialism as permanent but aspiring to reconstruct a lost past, before the imperial epoch. Francis Robinson has identified how Muslims redefined themselves in the face of British expansion, but also how the Muslim world was able to use the Empire to spread Islam.2
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