Saturday, 12 July 2014

ANDERSON, Benedict 1991: Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism

Revised Edition. London and New York: Verso
In an anthropological spirit, then, I propose the following definition of the 
nation: it is an imagined community – and imagined as both inherently 
limited and sovereign. It is imagined because the members of even the 
smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, 
or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their 
communion. (...) The nation is imagined as limited because even the 
largest of them, encompassing perhaps a billion living human beings, has 
finite, if elastic, boundaries, beyond which lie other nations. No nation 
imagines itself coterminous with mankind. (...) It is imagined as sovereign 
because the concept was born in an age in which Enlightenment and 
Revolution were destroying the legitimacy of the divinely-ordained, 
hierarchical dynastic realm. Coming to maturity at a stage of human history 
when even the most devout adherents of any universal religion were 
inescapably confronted with the living pluralism of such religions, (...) 
nations dream of being free, and, if under God, directly so. The gage and 
emblem of this freedom is the sovereign state. /
Finally, it is imagined as a community, because, regardless of the actual inequality and 
exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal 
comradeship. (p. 5-7

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