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276imaginedcommunities_iii

276imaginedcommunities_iii - Communities III Imagined...

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Communities III: “Imagined Communities” and Other Media- mediated Communities
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Benedict Anderson
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Imagined Communities The idea of “imagined communities” comes from a book of that title by Benedict Anderson (1983). Anderson was trying to understand the rise of nationalism. He defines the nation as “an imagined political community – and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign. It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion” (p. 6)
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Imagined Communities Forms of imagining time: Anderson argues that there is a shift in the way people imagine “simultaneity”. In the Middle Ages, simultaneity operated “along” time, in the form of prefiguration and fulfilment: e.g. The sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham > The sacrifice of Christ The nation requires, however, an idea of “homogeneous empty time” that can be populated. In this kind of time simultaneity is “transverse”, and takes the form of temporal coincidence: e.g. there is a forest fire in California and a heavy snowfall in the northeastern U.S. on the same day. Within this kind of time, citizens can imagine one another as all moving forward in a shared progress.
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Imagined Communities Early forms of mass media – especially, mass-distributed printed books and newspapers seen as commodities (Anderson’s “print capitalism”) – mediated the formation of nations. How did they do this? Anderson’s main examples are 1) The novel 2) The daily newspaper
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Imagined Communities The Novel : Constantly emphasizes this idea of temporal coincidence, distributing characters, who may not know each other or who may meet only glancingly, across a “sociological landscape” of familiar types of people and kinds
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