How have nations and nationhood become the dominant form of political organization today? What is the role of culture in nationalism? In what ways have the ideological development of nationalisms in the post-colonial world shaped understandings of contemporary political problems such as the rise of radical Islam, communalism, and the failure of secular-liberal democracy? This book offers the first comparative study of two highly significant anti-colonial nationalisms. Its close analysis of nationalist discourse in India and Egypt is situated within a new theoretical framework for studying nationalism, based on a trenchant critique of theorists such as Benedict Anderson, Ernest Gellner, Eric Hobsbawm and Anthony Smith.