Through Steven Kemper’s seminal work on Sinhalese culture in Sri Lanka, Kemper address the role of nationalism as a "local response" to changes of circumstances in society. Kemper emphasizes that theorists and historians needs to pay attention to the unique culture, political structure and social consciousness of different societies when writing about nationalism and The Nation. Each society, due to its own cultural circumstances, has its own unique form of national identity and culture. Kemper reacts against previous conceptions of nationalism in that they don’t pay enough attention to the political structure of a society, and are too busy making hegemonic, macro-historical statements about such terms as "Nationalism." By emphasizing the local element, Kemper desires that historians and anthropologists begin to be more specific and less general about their given discussions of national identity. However, Kemper does not deny the value of the research on nationalism by such important writers as Anderson, Gellner and others, but rather wants to refine the study by taking a microhistorical approach to the field.
Kemper’s work is essential for anyone making a study of nationalism and postcolonial theory on the national stage. His work on Sinhalese life and culture draws a study of how a particular form of nationalism could has such violent effects during the Sri Lankan civil war. The gradual development of nationalistic sentiment in a culture is a political phenomenon which is strengthened by local culture such as language, religion, family structures and cultural art forms. In this way, culture is intertwined with the political development of a society. As Kemper states, "Nationalism builds the civil order by saying it was there all the while. Of course, it was not, but the instruments of nationalist practice were there … a political rhetoric of righteous, unifying leadership and cultural forms such as the keeping of chronicles" (Kemper, p. 224).