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Imagined Communities by Benedict Anderson, 1983. Ch 1: Introduction Nation, Nationality, and Nationalism –are innovative, recent concepts, artifacts created.

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Presentation on theme: "Imagined Communities by Benedict Anderson, 1983. Ch 1: Introduction Nation, Nationality, and Nationalism –are innovative, recent concepts, artifacts created."— Presentation transcript:

1 Imagined Communities by Benedict Anderson, 1983

2 Ch 1: Introduction Nation, Nationality, and Nationalism –are innovative, recent concepts, artifacts created in late 18 th century due to historical circumstance, but easily transplanted to the rest of the world –lack definitions and defy analysis, arouse deep attachments

3 Three paradoxes of Nationalism 1) Objective modernity of nations vs. their subjective antiquity 2) Formal universality of nationality as a socio-cultural concept vs. irremediable particularity of concrete manifestations of nationality 3) Political power of nationalisms vs. their philosophical poverty and incoherence

4 Definition of nation An imagined political community that is both limited and sovereign Imagined because members cannot all know each other Limited because no nation encompasses all of mankind, nor even aspires to Sovereign because nations came into being during Enlightenment and strive for freedom Community because a nation is conceived of as a horizontal comradeship of equals

5 Why? Why is it that these limited imaginings of fraternity, which have existed for only two centuries, have inspired millions of people to be willing kill and die for them? The answers lie in the cultural roots of nationalism.

6 Ch2: Cultural Roots What was happening in Europe in 18 th c? –Religious modes of thought were declining –Enlightenment and rationalist secularism were prevailing –The idea of a nation gave a new sense of continuity to the cycle of life and death –Nations imagine themselves as an expression of a glorious past headed toward a limitless future

7 Cultural Systems Prior to the advent of nationality, the primary cultural systems were: Religious communities or Dynastic realms

8 Religious community: linked by a sacred language/text which was “superior” to vernaculars potentially encompass all humanity via conversion suggested a unique hierarchy, unique access to truth ultimately eroded by world exploration/discovery of other “great” religions and vernacularization

9 Dynastic realm: Kingdoms focused on centers, not borders Ruled over heterogeneous populations Sexual politics of dynastic marriage Population is subjects, not citizens, part of a divine hierarchy Principle of automatic legitimacy withered away and dynasties gradually took on nationalist features

10 Apprehensions of time Religious world view based on concept of time where there is a simultaneity of past and future in an instantaneous present Innovation of novel and newspaper create a new concept of “homogeneous empty time” and a new concept of simultaneity A nation can move calendrically through this new time

11 CH3: The Origins of National Consciousness Development of print as a commodity makes it possible for a community that is “horizontal-secular, transverse-time” to exist Capitalism helped to make the concept of nation popular

12 Print-capitalism Printing begins in 15 th c, aimed at Latin readers, but this market was saturated after 150 years, and focus shifted to vernaculars Even earlier, use of administrative vernaculars began spreading in Europe Print gave language a new fixity, helped create standards and build an image of antiquity

13 Ch5: Old Languages, New Models Between 1820 & 1920 national print- languages were of central ideological and political importance in Europe The concept of “nation”, once invented, became widely available for pirating, and was imported to a diverse array of situations and ideologies

14 Europe’s sense of self and other 16 th c Europe discovered other civilizations, and that it was only one among many civilizations, and not necessarily the Chosen or the best 18 th c Comparative linguistics and investigation of proto-languages changes concepts of history, 19 th c linguistic development of vernaculars Languages belonged no longer to God, but to their speakers, and dictionaries and grammars treat all languages as equals

15 Bourgeoisie and Literacy expand 19 th c Europe major expansion of state bureaucracies and middle classes Cohesion of bourgeoisie facilitated by literacy Vernacular languages of state assumed greater power, first displacing Latin and then minority languages

16 Equality of compatriots “The new middle-class intelligentsia of nationalism had to invite the masses into history” Nairn “If ‘Hungarians’ deserved a national state, then that meant Hungarians, all of them; it meant a state in which the ultimate locus of sovereignty had to be the collectivity of Hungarian-speakers and readers; and, in due course, the liquidation of serfdom, the promotion of popular education, the expansion of suffrage, and so on.” Anderson

17 Ch8: Patriotism & Racism Many today find nationalism to be pathological, with affinities to racism, hatred of the Other, but… Nations inspire self-sacrificing love, shown in poetry, prose, music, arts.

18 The political love of nationalism This love is expressed in terms of kinship or home, ties that are “natural” and unchosen, like skin-color and parentage Because these ties are unchosen, “they have about them a halo of disinterestedness” and can require sacrifice

19 Love & death The fated link to a nation, because it is disinterested, has a purity that sanctions the idea of an ultimate sacrifice The 20th c is unprecedented in the number of people who lay down their lives for their nations Death serves also to symbolize eternal continuity for a nation

20 Just for comparison… Dying for something like –The Democratic Party –The American Medical Association –Amnesty International These would not have the same cachet because they are bodies we can join or leave

21 More on death… War monuments, holidays commemorating battles, holocausts, genocides, and even fraternal (civil) wars serve to bond a nation to a history Tombs for the Unknown Soldier are particularly powerful, for they also reinforce the image of equality

22 Language A language is a powerful means to root a nation to a past because a language looms up from the past without any birthdate of its own, and suggests a community between a contemporary society and its dead ancestors Poetry and songs, as national anthems create a simultaneous community of selfless voices

23 Imagined objects of affection “…the objects of…these attachments are ‘imagined’ -- anonymous, faceless fellow- Tagalogs, exterminated tribes, Mother Russia…But amor patriae does not differ in this respect from the other affections, in which there is always an element of fond imagining…What the eye is to the lover…language…is to the patriot. Through that language, encountered at mother’s knee and parted with only at the grave, pasts are restored, fellowships are imagined, and futures are dreamed.”

24 Ch10: Census, Map, Museum These three institutions shaped the way in which states imagined their dominion: the nature of the human beings they ruled, the geography of their domain, and the legitimacy of their ancestry

25 A census Reifies identities into singular, mutually- exclusive categories Suggests a quantity of identical units

26 A map Focuses on borders rather than on centers Views each as a country from above, filling the space of the planet The shape of a country becomes a logo that penetrates national imagination as an emblem of the country

27 A museum Suggests a political inheritance of historical connections and restored monuments that serve as regalia for the modern state

28 The census, map, and museum Served as a “totalizing classificatory grid, which could be applied…to anything under the state’s real or contemplated control…” Assumed that the world was made up of replicable plurals, that everything had a serial number

29 Ch11: Memory and Forgetting The naming of towns such as New York, Nueva Leon, Nouvelle Orleans, Nova Lisboa, Nieuw Amsterdam -- suggest that it was possible to imagine a vast parallelism of simultaneous states, inspiring revolutions and nationalism in the Americas

30 New nationalisms in Europe Imagine themselves as awakening from sleep This “awakening” “opened up an immense antiquity behind the epochal sleep” Awakening also “provided a crucial metaphorical link between the new European nationalisms and language”

31 Awakening to language… “Sleep” “permitted those intelligentsias and bourgeoisies who were becoming conscious of themselves as Czechs, Hungarians or Finns to figure their study of Czech, Magyar, or Finnish languages, folklores, and musics as ‘rediscovering’ something deep-down and always known” Despite the fact that the vanguard was often people unaccustomed to using the vernaculars, and that previously no one had thought of languages as belonging to territorially defined groups…

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