Summary of “Imagined Community”
1.Nation-ness is the most universally legitimate value in thepolitical life of our time.
2.Theorists of nationalism have often been perplexed, not to sayirritated, by these three paradoxes:
(a) The objective modernity of nations to the historian’s eyes vs.their subjective antiquity in the eyes of nationalists.
(b) The formal university of nationality as a socio-culturalconcept - in the modern world everyone can, should, will ‘ have ‘ anationality, as he or she ‘ has ‘ a gender- vs. the irremediable particularity ofits concrete manifestations, such that, by definition, ‘ Greek ‘ nationality issui generis.
(c) The ‘ political ‘ power of nationalisms vs. theirphilosophical poverty and even incoherence.
3.The definition of the nation: it is an imagined political community-and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign. It is imagined becausethe members of even the smallest nation will never know most of theirfellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each livesthe image of their communication.
4. The nation is imagined as limited because even the largest ofthem, encompassing perhaps a billion living human beings, has finite, ifelastic, boundaries, beyond which lie other nations.
5. It is imagined as sovereign because the concept was born in anage in which Enlightenment and Revolution were destroying the legitimacy of thedivinely-ordained, hierarchical dynastical realm.
6. It is imagined as community, because, regardless of the actualinequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is alwaysconceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship.
7.What make the shrunken imaginings of recently generate suchcolossal sacrifices? He believed that the beginnings of an answer lie in thecultural roots of nationalism. --- the cenotaphs and tombs of Unknown Soldiers.
8. Although in Western Europe the eighteenth century marks notonly the dawn of the age of nationalism but the dusk of religious modes ofthought, he did not consider nationalism “produced” or “supersedes” religion.What he proposed is that nationalism has to be understood by aligning it, notwith self-consciously held political ideologies, but with the large systemsthat proceeded it, out of which- as well as against which- it cam into being.For these purposes, the two relevant cultural systems are the religiouscommunity and the dynastic realm.
9. Classical communities (Islam, Christendom, Buddhist,Confucianism) linked by sacred languages had a character distinct from theimagined communities of modern nations. One crucial difference was the oldercommunities’ confidence in the unique sacredness of their languages, and thustheir ideas about admission and membership. But the illiterate occupied a largepopulation. A fuller explanation requires a glance at the relationship betweenthe literati and their societies.
10. These communities’ unique sacredness: (1) The effect of theexplorations of the non-European world, which mainly but by no meansexclusively in Europe ‘ abruptly widened the cultural and geographic horizonand hence also men’s conception of possible forms of human life’. (2) A gradualdemotion of the sacred language itself.
11. Dynastic Realm: In modern conception, state sovereignty isfully, flatly, and evenly operative over each square centimeters of a legallydemarcated territory. In the older imagining, where centres defined states,borders were porous and indistinct, and sovereignties faded imperceptibly intoone another.
12. Why make the mediaeval conception of simultaneity-along-timeto “homogeneous, empty time” ? Why this transformation should be so importantfor the birth of the imagined community of the nation can best be seen if weconsider the basic structure of two forms of imagining which first flowered inEurope in the eighteenth century: the novel and the newspaper. For these formsprovided the technical means for ‘re-presenting’ the kind of imagined communitythat is the nation.
13. The imagining linkage which made by newspaper derives from twoobliquely related sources:
(1) The first is simply calendrical coincidence. The date at thetop of the newspaper, the single most important emblem on it, provide theessential connection- the steady onward clocking of homogeneous, empty time.
(2) the second source ofimagining linkage lies in the relationship between the newspaper, as a form ofbook, and the market. The book (newspaper is an extreme form of the book)At thesame time, the newspaper reader, observing exact replicas of his own paperbeing consumed by his subway, barbership, or residential neighbours, iscontinually reassured that the imagined world is visibly rooted in everydaylife.
14.The very possibility of imagining the nation only arosehistorically when, and where, three fundamental cultural conceptions, all ofgreat antiquity, lost their axiomatic grip on men’s minds.
(1) The idea that a particular script-language offered theprivileged access to the ontological truth, precisely because it was aninseparable part of that truth.
(2) The belief that society was naturally organized around andunder high centers - monarchs who were persons apart from other human beingsand who ruled by some form of cosmological (divine) dispensation.
(3) A conception of temporality in which cosmology and historywere indistinguishable, the origin of the world and of men essentiallyidentical.
15.Nothing perhaps more precipitated this search, nor made it morefruitful, than print-capitalism, which made it possible for rapidly growingnumbers of people to think about themselves, and to relate themselves toothers, in profoundly new ways.
16. If the development of print-as-commodity is the key to thegeneration of wholly new ideas of simultaneity, still, we are simply at thepoint where communities of the type ‘horizontal-secular. transverse-time’become possible. The primacy of capitalism made the nation become so popular.
17.The revolutionary vernacularizing thrust of capitalism wasgiven further impetus by three extraneous factors, two of which contributeddirectly to the rise of national consciousness:
(1) The first and the ultimately the least important, was a changein the character of Latin itself.
(2) Second was the impact of the Reformation, which, at the sametime, owed much of its success to print-capitalism.
(3) Third was the slow, geographically uneven, spread ofparticular vernaculars as instruments of administrative centralization bycertain well-positioned would-be absolutist monarchs.
18. The print-languages laid the bases for nationalconsciousnesses in three distinct ways:
(1) First and foremost, they created unified fieldsof exchange andcommunication below Latin and above the spoken vernaculars.
(2) Print-capitalism gave a new fixity to language, which in thelong run helped to build that image of antiquity so central to the subjectiveidea of the nation.
(3) Third, print-capitalism created languages-of-power of a kinddifferent from the older administrative vernaculars. Certain dialectsinevitably were ‘closer’ to each print-language and dominated their final form.
19. The convergence of capitalism and print technology on thefatal diversity of human language created the possibility of a new form ofimagined community, which in its basic morphology set the stage for the modernnation.
20. The newer nationalisms (between 1820-1920) which have twostriking features mark them off from their ancestors.
(1) In almost of them ‘national print-languages’ were of centralideological and political importance.
(2) All were able to work from visible models provided by theirdistant, and after the convulsions of the French Revolution, not so distant,predecessors. The ‘nation’ thus became something capable of being consciouslyaspired to from early on, rather than a slowly sharpening frame of vision.
21.’Official nationalism’: it is important to stress that themodel could be selfconsciously followed by states with no serious great powerpretensions, so long as they were states in which the ruling classes or leadingelements in them felt threatened by the world-wide spread of the nationally-imaginedcommunity.
22. In a world in which the national state is the overwhelmingnorm, all of the this means that nations can now be imagined without linguisticcommunity- not in the naive spirit of nosotrous los Americanos, but out of ageneral awareness of what modern history has demonstrated to be possible.
23. The very idea of ‘ nation ‘ is now nestled firmly in virtuallyall print-languages; and nation-ness is virtually inseparable from politicalconsciousness.
24. The ‘last wave’ of nationalisms, most of them in the colonialterritories of Asia and Africa, was in its origins a response to the new-styleglobal imperialism made possible by the achievements of industrial capitalism.
25. Capitalism had also, not least by its dissemination of print, helpedto create popular, vernacular-based nationalisms in Europe, which to differentdegrees undermined the age-old dynastic principle, and egged intoself-naturalization every dynasty positioned to do.
26. These school-system, centralized and standardized, createdquite new pilgrimages which typically had their Romes
27. The interlock between particular educational andadministrative pilgrimages provided the territorial base for new ‘ imaginedcommunities’ in which natives could come to see themselves as ‘nationals’.
28. As with increasing speed capitalism transformed the means ofphysical and intellectual communication, the intelligentsias found ways tobypass print in propagating the imagined community, not merely to illiteratemasses, but even to literate masses reading different languages.
29. The cultural products of nationalism--- poetry, prose fiction,music, plastic arts- show this love (self-sacrificing love) very clearly inthousands of different forms and styles.
30. Through that language, encountered at mother’s knee and partedwith only at the grave, pasts are restored, fellowships are imagined, andfurther dreamed.
31. Thanks to print-capitalism, the French experience was notmerely ineradicable from human memory, it was also learnable-from.
32. If it is permissible to use modern Cambodia to illustrate anextreme modular transfer of ‘revolution,’ it is perhaps equitable to useVietnam to illustrate that of nationalism, by a brief excursus on the nation’sname.
(1) The timing of that archaeological push coincided with thefirst political struggle over the state’s educational policies.
(2) The formal ideological programme of the reconstructions alwaysplaced the builders of the monuments and the colonial natives in a certainhierarchy.
(3) In the discussion of the “historical map”, how colonialregimes began attaching themselves to antiquity as much as conquest.
34. This style of imagining did not come out of thin air. It wasthe product of the technologies of navigation, astronomy, horology, surveying,photography and print, to say nothing of the deep driving power of capitalism.
35. Map and census thus shaped the grammar which would in duecourse make possible ‘Burma’ and ‘Burmese,’
36.(1) The trope took into account the sensed parallelism out ofwhich the American nationalisms had been born and which the success of theAmerican nationalist revolutions had great reinforced in Europe.
(2) The trope provides a crucialmetaphorical link between the newEuropean nationalisms and languages.