Benedict Anderson's classic study of nationalism, Imagined Communities, is out this week in a new edition — available at a 40% discount through Saturday, October 15th.
We'll be posting writings related to the book throughout the week. Below is an essay by cultural anthropologist Katherine Verdery, first published in Daedalus in 1993 and reprinted in Mapping the Nation.
Bulevardi Bill Klinton in Pristina, Kosovo.
Nation and Nationalism: What are They?
During the 1980s and 1990s, the scholarly industry, built up around the concepts of nation and nationalism, became so vast and so interdisciplinary as to rival all other contemporary foci of intellectual production.
via Wikimedia Commons
Eric Hobsbawm, in his final chapter of a survey on the history of nationalism, claimed that the nation-state had embarked on a declining curve of historical viability, and that the beginnings of its fossilization would clear the way for deeper explorations into its origins, impact and possible futures. Not long afterwards, this judgment appeared to be refuted by the resurgence of national causes in the former Communist world. Hobsbawm, however, had suitably qualified his prediction so as to take into account the outbreak and intensification of national conflicts in such contexts. His claim that the nation-state was no longer a ‘vector’ of historical development meant only that the trend lines in the most dynamic zones of the world system had begun to push beyond familiar national dimensions.
In this essay, first published at Les mots sont importants, Christine Delphy and Sylvie Tissot react to the storm created by Nicolas Sarkozy’s comments on French national identity in the build-up to the French presidential election. Translated by David Broder
Maurice Barrès and the far right Ligue des Patriotes, 1912. via Wikimedia Commons.
"Once you become French, your ancestors are the Gauls," declared Nicolas Sarkozy, bringing a deluge of protests. As people everywhere told him, our ancestors are far more numerous and diverse than "the Gauls" alone. Yet such protests are insufficient. For what we need to attack are the very terms of this debate.