Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism / Edition 1by Benedict Anderson
Pub. Date: 11/16/2006
Publisher: Verso Books
Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson’s brilliant book on nationalism, forged a new field of study when it first appeared in 1983. Since then it has sold over a quarter of a million copies and is widely considered the most important book on the subject. In this greatly anticipated revised edition, Anderson updates and elaborates on the core question: what makes people live, die and kill in the name of nations? He shows how an originary nationalism born in the Americas was adopted by popular movements in Europe, by imperialist powers, and by the anti-imperialist resistances in Asia and Africa, and explores the way communities were created by the growth of the nation-state, the interaction between capitalism and printing, and the birth of vernacular languages-of-state. Anderson revisits these fundamental ideas, showing how their relevance has been tested by the events of the past two decades.
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The author of the book, Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson, Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, promotes a process that people of different cultures go through in order to reach a point where they feel a kinship with people that they have not even met. When there is this togetherness, a people can be considered a nation. This kinship does not make a nation real though. There is not a short answer for why a nation is an imagined community. The professor described nationalism as an anomaly. The point that nationalism has philosophical poverty, or lack of a stable base in order to rise as a mindset demotes it to a substance without merit, to imagination. The professor goes on to describe that a nation is imagined because the people who feel a camaraderie will not know even most of the people in their group. It is required that in order to belong to a group in reality, one has to know all the members of their group. Failure of this causes the togetherness to be imagined only. This thought describes that nationhood was borne out of necessity and not reality because independent thought brought by Enlightened thinkers, that being royal was not proof that God would speak and lead the people, showed that people were somehow equal and subsequent Revolution and overthrow left a power vacuum. Now more than any other during the age of technology and instant communication nationwide, nations are imaginary on a grander scale. The process of nationhood is too long to describe on one page since it includes religion, the decline of kingships, capitalism and books, and languages being used in government. It was shown that this process rises from necessity and not legitimacy. This is a good book to describe this concept.
An excellent book with plenty of insights into society.