Imagined Communities

  • View

  • Download

Embed Size (px)


Imagined Communities by Benedict Anderson

Text of Imagined Communities

Imagined Communities

Imagined CommunitiesReflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism-Benedict AndersonContentsContentsContentsIntroductionAim:To offer some tentative suggestions for a more satisfactory interpretation of the 'anomaly' of nationalism.Topic:Nationality, nation-ness, and nationalismConcepts and DefinitionNation: It is an imagined political community that is imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign.It is imagined because members will never know most of their fellow-members, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion.IntroductionConcepts and DefinitionIt is limited because it has finite, though elastic boundaries beyond which lies other nations.It is sovereign because it came to maturity at a stage of human history when freedom was a rare and precious ideal.It is imagined as a community because it is conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship.IntroductionCultural RootsChanges in the following created the conditions under which nationalism may have emerged:THE RELIGIOUS COMMUNITYTHE DYNASTIC REALMAPPREHENSIONS OF TIMEThe Religious CommunityDecline of belief that there is a sacred text that irrevocably embodies truth.Changes in the religious community gave rise to the belief that nationalism was a secular solution to the question of continuity that has been answered previously, by religious faith.Cultural RootsThe Religious CommunityCause of the fall:Effect of the explorations of the non-European worldGradual demotion of the sacred language. Old sacred languages were fragmented, vernaculars gained popularity.Cultural RootsThe Dynastic RealmThe principle of Legitimacy of sacral monarchy began its slow decline.Decline of the belief that society was naturally organized around and under high centers-monarchs who ruled under some form of cosmological dispensation or divine providence.Cultural RootsApprehensions Of TimeThe idea of a sociological organism moving calendrically through homogenous, empty time is a precise analogue of the idea of the nation, which also is conceived as a solid community moving steadily through history.Cultural RootsTwo forms of imagining in Europe, 18th century:The NovelThe NewspaperProvided technical means for representing the nation, an imagined community.Cultural RootsThe Origins of National ConsciousnessCulturalconsciousness took the form of nationalism due to the interaction between:a system of production and productive relations (capitalism)a technology of communications (print)the fatality of human linguistic diversityCapitalism The expansion of the book market aided by:change in the character of Latinthe impact of the Reformation, which led to the mass production of religious textsthe spread of particular vernaculars as instruments of administrative centralizationThe Origins of National ConsciousnessPrintPrint languages laid the foundation for national consciousness by:creating unified fields of exchange and communicationgiving a new fixity to languagethey created languages-of-power of a kind different from the older administrative vernacularsThe Origins of National ConsciousnessCreole PioneersCreole States: communities that were formed and led by people who shared a common language and common descent with those against whom they fought.Creole (Criollo)- person of (at least theoretically) pure European descent but born anywhere outside Europe.Factors Of Latin American Nationalismthe tightening of control on creole communitiesLiberalism and the EnlightenmentCreole PioneersThe first nations to conceive nation-ness were not in Western Europe but in Latin America in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.Factorsthe improvement of trans-Atlantic communicationthe willingness of the ''comfortable classes'' to make sacrifices in the name of freedomcreole functionaries pilgrimageprovincial creole printmen and the rise of the newspaperCreole PioneersOld Languages, New ModelsOnset of the age of nationalism in Europe.Two striking features:National print-languages were of central ideological and political importance.the nation became something capable of being consciously aspired to from early on due to the ''models'' set forth by the Creole pioneers.20Vernacular print capitalism is important to class formation, particularly the rise of the bourgeoisie.The nobility then were potential consumers of the philological revolution.As soon as the events of the Americas reached the European nobility through print, the imagined realities of nation-states became models for Europe.Old Languages, New ModelsOfficial Nationalism and ImperialismFrom about the middle of the 19th C there developed ''official nationalism'' in Europe.The oligarchys prime models were the self naturalizing dynasties of Europe.Official nationalism concealed a discrepancy between nation and dynastic realm.Official Nationalism and ImperialismThe Last WaveThe last wave of nationalism was the transformation of the colonial-state to the national state facilitated by:increase in physical mobilityincreasing bureaucratizationthe spread of modern-style educationThe Last WaveOfficial nationalism brought the idea of ''national histories'' into the consciousness of the colonized.The Last Wave arose in a period of world history in which the nation was becoming an international norm and in which it became possible to ''model'' nationness in a more complex way than before.The Last WavePatriotism and RacismPatriotism and RacismNation came to be:Peoples attachment for the invention of their imagination, why they are ready to die for their inventions?Nation-ness is ''natural'' in the sense that it contains something that is not chosen (much like gender, skin color, and parentage).Nationalism thinks in terms of historical destinies, while racism dreams of eternal contaminations whose origins lie outside of history.Nation was conceived by language, not in blood.Patriotism and RacismThe Angel of HistoryNationalism has undergone a process of modulation and adaptation, according to different eras, political regimes, economies, and social structures.To limit or prevent such wars, nationalism is the pathology of modern developmental history, do our slow best to learn the real, and imagine experience of the past.The Angel of HistoryCensus, Map, MuseumThese three institutions of power profoundly shaped the way in which the colonial state imagined its dominion:CENSUSMAPMUSEUMCensus, Map, MuseumCENSUSCreated ''identities'' imagined by the classifying mind of the colonial stateThe fiction of the census is that everyone is in it, and that everyone has one, and only one, extremely clear place.Census, Map, MuseumMAPBasis of a totalizing classification. Designed to demonstrate the antiquity of specific, tightly bounded territorial units.Served as a logo, instantly recognizable and visible everywhere, that formed a powerful emblem for the anticolonial nationalism being born.Census, Map, MuseumMUSEUMAllowed the state to appear as the guardian of tradition, and this power was enhanced by the infinite reproducibility of the symbols of traditionCensus, Map, MuseumMemory and ForgettingThe 19thcentury imagining of fraternity, emerging naturally in a society fractured by the most violent racial, class and regional antagonism, show that nationalism represented a new form of consciousness.Selective 'historical' memory and forgetting is an integral part of nation creation.

Memory and ForgettingHow do you understand nation as defined by Benedict Anderson?What do you think is the significance in the decline of religious and dynastic influences in the rise of nationalism?What do you think was the most powerful factor that led to imaginings that produced a community, called nation?What is the role of racism in erasing nation-ness and nationalism?Discussion Questions: