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Summary Of Imagined Communities Essay

2448 words - 10 pages

Imagined Communities

The concept of nationalism, according to Benedict Anderson, has never been deeply discussed. There has never been a great thinker treating this concept as thoroughly as other concepts. Anderson suggests that one should not think of nationalism as an ideology like “fascism” or “liberalism”, but to relate it with “kinship” and “religion” in order to understand the similarity that groups of people have and why the territory that they live help one understand the borders that we have nowadays.
In order to understand better the concept of nationalism, Anderson starts analyzing the word that is the root of nationalism, which is the word nation. ...view middle of the document...

People became part of the same so called “nation”.
Benedict Anderson goes on to talk about how nationalism should be understood and relates it with “cultural roots”, as he calls his second chapter. Nationalism has not to be seen as a logical political ideology, but it has to be based on the many cultural systems that came before it. According to Anderson, nationalism appeared by the time that another three cultural ideas were starting to decrease in importance. Primarily, there were changes in the realm of religious communities, changes in the dynastic realm and changes in tim. The change in religious communities happened as the result of the exploration of the worlds that were not European. Also, the increase on publishing in vernacular decreased the usage of Latin as a sacred language played a big role to change the communities, and, therefore, the communities were not dependent on a Latin based society that only the few educated people could communicate.
The second one, the dynastic realm, started to change the status of the dynasties. During the medieval times, Europe’s states were determined by centers and peripheries. The borders were not certain and were seen as unofficial. The third change was in the view of time. It started to be understood as a “homogenous empty time,” measured in units by the clock and the calendar. This new way of seeing time went on to the idea of the nation, because the nation was also seen as moving steadily forward throughout history. Anderson gives one example to help the reader to understand better: “An American,” for example, “will never meet, or even know the names of more than a handful of his 240,000,000-odd fellow-Americans. He has no idea of what they are up to at any one time. But he has complete confidence in their steady, anonymous, simultaneous activity” (Page 26).
If the three previously mentioned changes, the decline of a coherent religious community, the decline of dynasties, and the emergence of homogenous time, created the conditions under which nationalism might have been born, the growth of print-capitalism is what cultivated the beginnings of nationalist consciousness.
After the Middle Ages, the communities saw an explosion of book publishing in vernacular languages. A number close to 20,000,000 books had already been printed in Europe by sixteenth century, and as many as 200,000,000 had been published by the seventeenth century, and that happened in part because of the impressive spread of the literature coming from Reformation. An unanticipated result of the logic of capitalism, the beginning of fixed written versions of French, German, and English were “assembled” out of Europe’s dizzying array of spoken languages in this period. In other words, the bottom line was fatal to European linguistic diversity. The new print-languages created unified fields of exchange and communication in a way that offered a new form of a imagined community....

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