Anderson, B. 1991. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism.

Anderson, Benedict. 1991. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism, Revised Edition. New York: Verso.

Introduction: Since WWII every successful revolution has defined self through national terms – Marxist/nationalist, subnationalism within borders. Difficulties in navigating objectivity in historical experience, versus antiquity in nationalists’ view (^this presumes that historians have some sort of objectivity to be offered, um, naw); how we define and assign nationality – does/should everyone have/identify with one?; nationalism’s lack of great political thinkers. “Communities are to be distinguished, not by their falsity/genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined” (6). Though imagined, national communities have real life consequences.

Cultural Roots: Predecessors to nationality – religious communities and dynastic realms – (though does not say that nationality replaces these). Languages as critical to creating boundaries (^authenticity?) in religions (truths, knowledge – creating hierarchies), states – ‘sovereignty’ of faiths, though some considered more ‘true’ than others. Dynasties as a combination of border and sexual politics – globalizing from early eras. Imagined communities have linkages between each other (purported and reported in the media).

The Origins of National Consciousness: Emergence of book as a media worked to pass on ideations of belonging, capitalism, religion, political centralization, language, (though stratified by literacy, class) — the passing of this information facilitated by intersections of production, shifts in religion, expansion of territories – all essential to the ability to imagine a community. Unification through Latin helped ‘translate’ documents and ideas, offered permanence and order to language, and gave way to certain hierarchies within unwritten languages (offers belonging within sub-nationalities, despite marginalization).

Creole Pioneers: Cultural revolutions in Latin America, particularly slave revolts, worked to accentuate power of masses, power of non-elites. The pilgrimage as a journey of meaning-making, related distant places to local ones. Documentation worked to take laws away from persons, transfer rules past rulers. Colonialization brought intermingling, and ‘contact’ with ‘others’ created need for stratification system to designate belonging and boundaries.

Old Languages, New Model: Colonialization, imperialism brought about scientific ‘discovery’ and examination of ‘new’ societies. Bureaucracies defended the homogenization of language, to secure political power.

Official Nationalism and Imperialism: Official nationalism merged with family dynasties only after and reaction to national sovereignty movements, led by citizens.

The Last Wave: Imperialism and unification in American and European countries were felt and taken out on colonial territories, through language, politics, etc. Immigration, education, and hierarchies of power were solidified in this era – economic presence replicates – centralization of work, religion creates influx of travel.

Patriotism and Racism: Not all nationalism is bad, but can be. Dying for nation has a greater claim than dying for other interest groups – why? Primordialism of language roots together nations. Racist language denies people of nationality, and reduces them to physicalities or homogeneity. Racism and anti-semitism do not manifest themselves across international borders, but within them (^how does this hold up in an internet-linked world?) Colonial ‘solidarity among whites’ (152-153) uniting rulers despite national and personal conflicts – language adopted by indigenes to reflect nationality on all forms of whiteness, regardless of country of origin.

The Angel of History: Revolutionaries often derive power from fallen regimes, utilize toward their visions, but some revolutions have to deal with ‘leftovers’ from prior systems.

Census, Map, and Museum: Postcolonial identities don’t always follow media disseminations about nationality – but, three forces (aforementioned) work to help designate these. Census, as time went on, was less about nationality, and more about racial classifications – argues, however, that censuses were not so much about racial classification but of racial quantification. Maps created borders and put places in relation to imperials and their other relations. Colonial makings of museums created discussions about education, pressed dominant epistemes of what was to be studied, etc.

Memory and Forgetting: The practice of naming ‘new’ sites after old ones in imperial homelands. How we measure time has imperialist understandings – how we ignore or highlight certain elements of our history. Out of estrangement from ourselves, we learn identity – but, because we cannot often remember these incidents ourselves, they are mostly narrated back to us, giving us our notion on how to historicize our upbringing – analogous to nation-state identity.


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