Unimagined Communities


“[…] nations inspire love, and often profoundly self-sacrificing love. The cultural products of nationalism–poetry, prose fiction, music, plastic arts–show this love very clearly in thousands of different forms and styles. On the other hand, how truly rare it is to find analogous nationalist products expressing fear and loathing. Even in the case of colonized peoples, who have every reason to feel hatred for their imperialist rulers, it is astonishing how insignificant the element of hatred is in these expressions of national feeling.”

–Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities



6 thoughts on “Unimagined Communities

  1. Hey Craig, what year was this written? It’s an interesting quote, and one that I think might just be outdated. I’ll say that much rather than take it out of historical context and vehemently disagree with it.

  2. OK, hm. A couple of things: isn’t Benedict Anderson big on Filipino (Philippines-based, versus Fil Am) literature? I think he is. If that is the case, then I really don’t know so well the lit of that time in the Philippines, which dealt with Spain or North America, since we are talking about former colonial powers. I do know of anti-Martial Law lit, which I relate to the anti-US/Philippine “special relations,” so if that’s the case, then like you, I wonder what he was not reading.

    Last thing: I wonder if in Philippine lit, he read any strong Catholicism as pro-colonial love, even though Philippine Catholicism also has ties to revolutionary movements.

    Maybe he was chastising post-colonial writers for not being anti-colonial enough, which is to say, anti-colonial by his definition/standards. That’s problematic.

    Re: “master narrative” which it seems to me he is forwarding even though I really think his agenda (given what little I know about him) was not to forward it – I’ll go with Flavor Flav on this – yo, don’t believe the hype!

  3. Hi Craig, what context was Anderson writing this quote in? It doesn’t follow from his thesis…and as you write, it seems ahistorical and dangerous, which is why Im wondering…maybe you can give a page number and I can read it…thanks

  4. sure anon, page 141 in the revised verso edition. it's the beginning of the chapter 'patriotism & racism'


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