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Word Count: 555
Benedict Andersons book Imagined Communities Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism first appeared in 1983 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 Renan referred to this imagining in his suavely back-handed way when he wrote that Or lessence dune nation est que tons les individus aient beaucoup de choses en commun et aussi que tous aient oubli bien des choses With a certain ferocity Gellner makes a comparable point when he rules that Nationalism is not the awakening of nations to self-consciousness it invents nations where they do not exist The drawback to this formulation however is that Gellner is so anxious to show that nationalism masquerades under false pretences that he assimilates invention to fabrication and falsity rather than to imagining and creation In this way he implies that true communities exist which can be advantageously juxtaposed to nations In fact all communities larger than primordial villages of face-to-face contact and perhaps even these are imagined Communities are to be distinguished not by their falsitygenuineness but by the style in which they are imagined Javanese villagers have always known that they are connected to people they have never seen but these ties were once imagined particularistically-as indefinitely stretchable nets of kinship and clientship Until quite recently the Javanese language had no word meaning the abstraction society We may today think of the French aristocracy of the ancien r as a class but surely it was imagined this way only very late To the question Who is the Comte de X the normal answer would have been not a member of the aristocracy but the lord of X the uncle of the Baronne de Yor a client of the Duc de Z The nation is imagined as limited because even the
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