Spectre of Comparisons: Politics, Culture and the Nation

Overview

A controversial collection from the author of the celebrated Imagined Communities. While Benedict Anderson is best known for his classic book on nationalism, Imagined Communities, many of his most telling and incisive interventions have been made in his essays. Those collected in this new book span a range of subjects: from Aquino’s Philippines, where the horses on the haciendas ate better than the stable-hands, to political assassination in contemporary Thailand, where government posts have become so lucrative ...
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Overview

A controversial collection from the author of the celebrated Imagined Communities. While Benedict Anderson is best known for his classic book on nationalism, Imagined Communities, many of his most telling and incisive interventions have been made in his essays. Those collected in this new book span a range of subjects: from Aquino’s Philippines, where the horses on the haciendas ate better than the stable-hands, to political assassination in contemporary Thailand, where government posts have become so lucrative that to gain them candidates will kill their rivals. In these writing, the subtle imbrication of politics, national imaginings, bureaucracy, modernization and its agents (particularly print culture) is brought out in all its complexity and richness. “The spectre of comparisons” was a phrase used by the celebrated Filipino nationalist and novelist Jose Rizal (1861-96), whose work and fate in the national imagination are discussed in these pages. In his finely wrought observations on Southeast Asian societies, Anderson raises deep questions concerning this spectre, about how, for instance, Manila is changed when it can no longer be seen through a comparison with European capitals, and how, more broadly, nationalism is produce by the process of increasing global connection. The Spectre of Comparisons is an indispensable resource for those interested in South-East Asia. But it also contains important theoretical and historical considerations about nationalism, national literature and memory, modernization, and the prospects for the Left in what Anderson dubs ‘The New World Disorder’.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
To open this collection of essays, Anderson international studies, Cornell refines the theory of nationalism he developed in his acclaimed Imagined Communities 1983. Anderson deftly identifies the forces that forge a nation--an "imagined community" frequently incongruent with the state--from a group of people sharing some degree of common heritage. Subsequent essays examine the nationalism peculiar to each Southeast Asian country and draw comparisons among countries. Anderson also highlights the forces inhibiting the coalescence of a regional consciousness and the formation of a regional political bloc. Chief among these, he contends, are the proximity of China and the prevalence of authoritarian regimes. Finally, a provocative closing essay seeks to rehabilitate the reputation of nationalism, which has suffered in the post-Cold War years. A useful addition to the burgeoning literature on nationalism, this book illuminates the passions that have formed--and sometimes deformed--the modern world. Strongly recommended for academic libraries.--James Holmes, Fletcher Sch. of Law & Diplomacy, Tufts Univ., Medford, MA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859848135
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 9/1/1998
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.23 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Benedict Anderson is Aaron L. Binenkorp Professor of International Studies Emeritus at Cornell University. He is editor of the journal Indonesia and author of Java in a Time of Revolution, The Spectre of Comparisons: Nationalism, Southeast Asia, and the World and Imagined Communities.
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Table of Contents

Map
Author's Note
Acknowledgements
Introduction 1
Pt. I The Long Arc of Nationalism
1 Nationalism, Identity, and the Logic of Seriality 29
2 Replica, Aura, and Late Nationalist Imaginings 46
3 Long-Distance Nationalism 58
Pt. II Southeast Asia: Country Studies
4 A Time of Darkness and a Time of Light 77
5 Professional Dreams 105
6 Gravel in Jakarta's Shoes 131
7 Withdrawal Symptoms 139
8 Murder and Progress in Modern Siam 174
9 Cacique Democracy in the Philippines 192
10 The First Filipino 227
11 Hard to Imagine 235
Pt. III Southeast Asia: Comparative Studies
12 Elections in Southeast Asia 265
13 Radicalism after Communism 285
14 Sauve Qui Peut 299
15 Majorities and Minorities 318
Pt. IV What Is Left?
16 El Malhadado Pais 333
17 The Goodness of Nations 360
Index 369
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