Today, we are used to both the nation-state and the idea of nationalism. However, it may be possible to have one without the other. Authors have written about nationalism for centuries, but the nation state as we know it has existed a relatively short amount of time. So, did nationalism predate the nation?
Yes, nationalism predated nation states.
There is strong evidence of behaviors akin to nationalism in societies that predate our modern idea of the "nation state."
Nationalism is a form of tribalism
Tribalism: the behaviour and attitudes that stem from strong loyalty to one's own tribe or social group
It has been suggested that nationalism and nation states developed together as a result of fifteenth-century mapmaking and exploring tactics.
Both nationalism and nation states were created by an awareness of geography
In the fifteenth century, with the development of widespread land and sea transport, people began to develop a stronger awareness of geography and where people existed, meaning nationalism and nation states developed as these oppositions were established.