Benedict Anderson

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Benedict Anderson [Imagined Communities ; Reflections on the Origin and Spread Of Nationalism]

Summary
Nation-ness as the most “universally legitimate value” in the political life of our time. •Nationalism as an uncomfortable anomaly for Marxist theory •Argues that concepts of nationality and nationalism are cultural artefacts •Creation of artefacts was the spontaneous outcome of a complicated intersection of random historical forces at play. •“once created, they became modular” allowing it to fit itself to most political and social landscapes. •Theories of nationalism face three paradoxes

1.Objective modernity of nations to historian’s eye vs their subjective antiquity in nationalist’s eyes. 2.The seemingly universality of nationality as a socio-cultural concept vs the unchangeable exclusive particularity of its physical manifestations. 3.The political power of nationalism vs their philosophical “poverty” •Shows us the flaw in classifying “Nationalism” as an ideology. •Proposes his own definition of nation; “it is an imagined political community- and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign” •“imagined”, as members will never know most of each other, however keep a mental image of and believe in their communion. •To quote Gellner, “Nationalism is not the awakening of nations to self-consciousness: it invents nations where they do not exist” •Communities to be differentiated not by their authenticity, but rather by the way they are imagined. For example, the modern imagination of the aristocracy as a class in pre-modern France. •“limited” as the largest of nations still has finite boundaries. •“sovereign” as the concept was created in an era when the Age of Enlightenment and revolution were eroding the legitimacy of the heavenly mandate, tiered dynastic rule. Also due to the realisation of religious pluralism. •“community” as the imagination of a “deep, horizontal comradeship”

Cultural roots
The nationalist imagining shares...
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