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Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism

The definitive, bestselling book on the origins and development of nationalism.
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.

Reviews

  • “[S]parkling, readable, densely packed.”
  • “[A] brilliant little book.”
  • “Anderson's knowlege of a vast range of relevant historical literature is most impressive; his presentation of the gist of it is both masterly and lucid.”

Blog

  • Imagined Communities: Benedict Anderson on (British) Nationalism

    Tariq Ali introduces a documentary about the late Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities and the concept of nationalism, particularly as it was expressed through the 'British' national imagination. Made in 1991, the film features Anderson and other thinkers responding to the book and its examination of the role of print culture in the origins of nationalism. 

    Anderson, the world renowned scholar of Southeast Asia, passed away in December, 2015. An instant classic, Imagined Communities was first published by Verso in 1983.

    His memoir, A Life Beyond Boundaries, will be published in May 2016. Anderson recounts a life spent open to the world in this intellectual memoir and discusses the ideas and inspirations behind his best-known work, Imagined Communities, whose complexities changed the study of nationalism.


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  • El Mundo Obituary: Benedict Anderson

    Benedict Anderson (1936-2015) was one of the most influential thinkers of the nation; he passed away on 12th December, 2015. Imagined Communities, his seminal work, was first published by Verso in 1983 and became an instant classic for its examination of the origins and development of nationalism and the creation of communities. Carlos Sardiña Galache remembers the historian, who maintained that there were “utopian elements” worth fighting for in the idea of the nation, in this obituary, originally published in El Mundo in Spanish and translated here by Annie McDermott.

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  • “Eka Kurniawan may be South-East Asia’s most ambitious writer in a generation”— The Economist

    “Without a doubt the most original, imaginatively profound, and elegant writer of fiction in Indonesia today”—Benedict Anderson

    In this New Left Review piece in 2013 Benedict Anderson questioned why “over the 110 years of announcements of winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, there has never been an awardee from any country in Southeast Asia—while every other region has had its turn?”

    It was through Anderson that we were introduced to Eka Kurniawan, “Indonesia’s most original living writer of novels and short stories, and its most unexpected meteorite.” His overview—posted in its entirety here—attests to the epochal nature of Kurniawan's work, figuring him as Indonesia's answer to “Sophocles, Virgil, Lady Murasaki, Cervantes, Melville, Lu Hsün, Shakespeare, Proust, Gogol, Ibsen, Márquez, or Joyce.” 

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