Technological nationalism

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Technological nationalism is a way of understanding how technology affects the society and culture of a nation. One common example is the use of technology as the key subject in a Nationalist project, with the goal of promoting connectedness and a stronger national identity. This idea establishes the belief that the success of a nation can be determined by how well that nation innovates and diffuses technology across its people. Technological Nationalists believe that the presence of national R&D efforts, and the effectiveness of these efforts, are key drivers to the overall growth, sustainability, and prosperity of a nation.[1][2]

Leaders of Innovation

Technological nationalism is consistently tied to specific countries that are known for their innovative nature. These countries and regions such as Great Britain, Germany and North America have become known for being leaders in technological growth. When identifying leaders in technological innovation it has been affirmed “technologies are associated with particular nations. Cotton textiles and steam power are seen as British, chemicals as German, mass production as North American, consumer electronics as Japanese.”[3] These countries have grown to be prosperous due to their strong economic ties to technological growth, “Historians and others have assumed that Germany and America grew fast in the early years of the twentieth century because of rapid national innovation.” Because of the effect that technology has on economic growth there is an implicit tie between economic growth and nationalism. Britain became an example of this tie between economic prosperity and technological innovation when they invested heavily in technological research and development to match the innovation standards of other countries.[4]


Indonesia isn’t often thought of as an area where excessive innovation occurs. However, in relation to technological nationalism, Indonesia is a front-runner. In 1976, Indonesia established the Industri Pesawat Terban Nusantara or IPTN, which is a government issued company that specializes in air and space travel. The IPTN would soon receive a 2 billion dollar investment from the government, making it among the largest companies in a third world country, let alone one of the only aircraft manufacturers. Because of its overwhelming success, Indonesians felt immense pride for their country and became “a prominent symbol of Indonesian national esteem and pride.” Because of this newfound confidence, Indonesians began to consider themselves “equal to Westerners,” showing that having pride in one’s country can be a direct result of technological investments.[5]


Canada's greatest challenge in the 19th century was to unite the country across a continent. The construction of the CPR (from 1881 to 1885) was a deliberate political and economic attempt to unite Canada's regions and link Eastern and Western Canada, the heartland and hinterland respectively. Charland identified this project as based on the nation's faith in technology's ability to overcome physical obstacles. As the technology was adapted to suit Canadian needs, it fed the national rhetoric that railroads were an integral part of nation building. This spirit of technological nationalism also fuelled the development of broadcasting in the country and thus further served in the development of a national identity. Paradoxically however, these technologies, which historian Harold Innis termed "space-binding," simultaneously supported and undermined the development of a Canadian nation. Based in connection rather than content, they did not favour any particular set of values, except those arising from trade and communication themselves, and so they also contributed to Canada's integration into first the British, and then the American empire.

See also