Assignment On Contested Meaning of Nationalism

"It is not only the world that has changed its face over the past twelve years, the study of nationalism too has been startlingly transformed in method, scale, sophistication, and sheer puantity” (Anderson: 1991: Preface).

Since world war II every successful revolution has defined itself in national terms and in so doing, has grounded it firmly in a territorial and social space inherited from the prerevolutionary past. Nation, nationality, nationalism-all have proved notoriously difficult to define, let alone to analyse. Theorists of nationalism have often been perplexed by these three paradoxes.

(1) The objective modernity of nations to the historian’s eye Vs. their subjective antiquity in the eyes of nationalists;
(2) The formal universality of nationality as a socio-cultural concept Vs. the irremediable particularity of its concrete manifestations; 
(3) The political power of nationalisms vs their philosophical poverty and even incoherence. 
The following definition of nation can be devised from an anthropological spirit:
“It is an imagined political community and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign” (Anderson: 1991: 6). 

It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never be 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.
The nation is imagined as limited because even the largest of them, has finite, if elastic, boundaries, beyond which lie other nations.
It is imagined as Sovereign because the concept was born in an age in which Enlightment and Revolution were destroying the legitimacy of the divinely-ordained, hierarchical dynastic realm.

Finally, it is imagined as a community because regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship.

Indeed, nationality, nation-ness as well as nationalism are cultural artifacts of a particular kind we need to consider carefully how they have come into historical being in what ways their meanings have changed over time, and why, today, they command such profound emotional legitimacy, to understand them properly.