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Benedict Anderson, 1936 – 2015

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December 2015

“[The nation] is an imagined political community – and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign. [It] is imagined as a community, because, regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship. Ultimately, it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willing to die for such limited imaginings,” wrote Benedict Anderson in his influential ‘Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism’. While he was critical of what he called the “angels of banality” who decontextualised his historical argument, the expression “imagined community” secured Anderson’s global reputation. And along with Southeast Asian-focused “The Spectre of Comparisons” to an exploration of anarchism “Under Three Flags”, Anderson shaped several generations of scholars.

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