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Nations as zones of conflict, nations as zones of selection: A Darwinian social evolutionary engagement with John Hutchinson's ‘Culture Wars’This paper explores the use of Darwinian social evolutionary theory towards understanding the formation of nations through a specific engagement with John Hutchinson's Nations as Zones of Conflict, particularly the idea of ‘culture wars’. After outlining Hutchinson's framework and the principles of Darwinian social evolutionary theory – namely, the key concepts of inheritance, variation, and selection within an environmental context – I make a case for Darwinian concepts being able to support and expand on Hutchinson's ethno‐symbolic approach. I argue that Darwinian social evolutionary theory offers a powerful explanation for why particular myths, symbols, traditions, and memories endure and are revived and revitalized in nationalist contexts. The development of nationalism in Meiji Japan is used as an example to explore these ideas.