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Brexitism

Alan Finlayson, 18 May 2017

... return to a timeless origin, the reclaiming of a land that had been lost. Modern civic nations, as Benedict Anderson identified, are conceived as ‘a solid community moving steadily down (or up) history’. The Brexitist conviction that there is no knowable future is symptomatic of a more widespread collapse in what we might think of as the political ...

The View from the Top

Sanjay Subrahmanyam: Upland Anarchists, 2 December 2010

The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland South-East Asia 
by James C. Scott.
Yale, 442 pp., £16.99, January 2011, 978 0 300 16917 1
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... quite different figures in the Western academy can claim the credit for this: Clifford Geertz, Benedict Anderson and James C. Scott. Geertz, one of whose many talents was for the writing of superbly perfidious book reviews, was the master of the catchy phrase: he gave us ‘theatre state’, ‘agricultural involution’ and quite a few others, which ...

Goodbye to Mahfouz

Edward Said, 8 December 1988

... Elsewhere in the Arab mashriq Arabic became the focus of hopes for reform and renaissance. As Benedict Anderson has shown, the spread of literacy has spurred the rise of modern nationalism, in the midst of which narrative prose fiction played a crucial role in creating a national consciousness. By providing readers not only with a sense of their ...

A Diagram of Power in the Arab World

Michael Gilsenan, 2 October 1997

Master and Disciple: The Cultural Foundations of Moroccan Authoritarianism 
by Abdellah Hammoudi.
Chicago, 195 pp., £30.50, September 1997, 0 226 31527 4
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... Though he does not use the same terms, his interrogations seem to me to be cousin to those of Benedict Anderson in Imagined Communities and Jacqueline Rose in State of Fantasy: how are Arab communities and nations imagined? What are the fantasies that are constitutive of their different political and social identities? And in the shadows hovers the ...

Imagined Territories

Yonatan Mendel: Designing the Occupation, 2 August 2007

Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation 
by Eyal Weizman.
Verso, 318 pp., £19.99, June 2007, 978 1 84467 125 0
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... time, achieved a kind of reality consistent with its ambitions, in what might – borrowing from Benedict Anderson – be thought of as its ‘Imagined Territories’. Israel’s insistence on building in the Occupied Territories forced it to take into account the existence of Palestinian villages and roads but as Weizman shows, Israeli ...

Nutty Professors

Hal Foster: ‘Lingua Franca’, 8 May 2003

Quick Studies: The Best of ‘Lingua Franca’ 
edited by Alexander Star.
Farrar, Straus, 514 pp., $18, September 2002, 0 374 52863 2
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... here, and his collection offers helpful accounts of influential thinkers such as Richard Rorty, Benedict Anderson and the radical-turned-Neo-Conservative historian Eugene Genovese, as well as thoughtful reviews of significant debates, such as the contested legacy of Darwin (Stephen Jay Gould v. sociobiology), the stake of revisionist histories of the ...

Stand-Off in Taiwan

Perry Anderson: Greens v. Blues in the South China Sea, 3 June 2004

... this development be understood historically? In an address given in Taipei a couple of years ago, Benedict Anderson suggested that it is best seen as a contemporary version of the originating form of modern nationalism: namely, the separation of overseas settler communities from an imperial homeland, such as gave birth to the United States in the 18th ...

Demonising Nationalism

Tom Nairn, 25 February 1993

... But there is (I would suggest) no abyss, save the ideological one in metropolitan craniums. As Benedict Anderson says in another of the more critical contributions to the debate (also entitled ‘The New World Disorder’), the key misconception is that what’s going on is essentially ‘“fragmentation” and “disintegration” – with all the ...

History’s Postman

Tom Nairn: The Jewishness of Karl Marx, 26 January 2006

Karl Marx ou l’esprit du monde 
by Jacques Attali.
Fayard, 549 pp., €23, May 2005, 2 213 62491 7
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... bit of modernity had been produced in the same country, in Gutenberg’s workshop in Mainz. As Benedict Anderson has pointed out, print was the precondition of all modern ‘imagined communities’. Now it would give rise to the most widely-read book of the modern epoch, Marx and Engels’s Communist Manifesto of February 1848. And from that sprang ...

Wanting to Be Something Else

Adam Shatz: Orhan Pamuk, 7 January 2010

The Museum of Innocence 
by Orhan Pamuk, translated by Maureen Freely.
Faber, 720 pp., £18.99, December 2009, 978 0 571 23700 5
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... science, its art, its movies, its soda pop), and invariably coming up short, haunted by what Benedict Anderson has called the ‘spectre of comparison’. On a trip to Venice as the sultan’s ambassador, Enishte Effendi, the uncle of the hero of My Name Is Red, sees a painting of an ‘infidel’ on a palazzo wall and feels as if he’s looking at ...

The Habit of War

Jeremy Harding: Eritrea, 20 July 2006

I Didn’t Do It for You: How the World Used and Abused a Small African Nation 
by Michela Wrong.
Harper Perennial, 432 pp., £8.99, January 2005, 0 00 715095 4
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Unfinished Business: Ethiopia and Eritrea at War 
edited by Dominique Jacquin-Berdal and Martin Plaut.
Red Sea, 320 pp., $29.95, April 2005, 1 56902 217 8
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Battling Terrorism in the Horn of Africa 
edited by Robert Rotberg.
Brookings, 210 pp., £11.99, December 2005, 0 8157 7571 7
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... condensed version of the slower colonial evolutions towards national consciousness plotted by Benedict Anderson. How the territory was denied independence is a story Wrong tells very well. Much had to do with Emperor Haile Selassie, the way he positioned himself and the presence he achieved, both in the West and (despite his enemies on the ...

Out of the Cage

Tom Nairn: Popping the bubble of American supremacy, 24 June 2004

After the Empire: The Breakdown of the American Order 
by Emmanuel Todd, translated by C. Jon Delogu.
Constable, 288 pp., £8.99, July 2004, 1 84529 058 5
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Bubble of American Supremacy: Correcting the Misuse of American Power 
by George Soros.
Weidenfeld, 207 pp., £12.99, January 2004, 0 297 84906 9
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... the pen and print room which fostered nation-state formation in early modern times, as Benedict Anderson showed in Imagined Communities. The new literate world will be more outward-reaching and multiform, providing vehicles for a ‘new distribution of democratic energy around the world’. An information revolution counterpointed the ...

In the Waiting-Room of History

Amit Chaudhuri: ‘First in Europe, then elsewhere’, 24 June 2004

Provincialising Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference 
by Dipesh Chakrabarty.
Princeton, 320 pp., £42.95, October 2000, 0 691 04908 4
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... empty time of history’. The phrase was made current in the social sciences by Benedict Anderson in his classic discussion of the rise of the nation-state, Imagined Communities; but Chakrabarty’s usage of it, concerned primarily with the European notion of modernity, is Benjaminesque in spirit. Yet the references to Benjamin after ...

Partnership of Loss

Roy Foster: Ireland since 1789, 13 December 2007

Ireland: The Politics of Enmity 1789-2006 
by Paul Bew.
Oxford, 613 pp., £35, August 2007, 978 0 19 820555 5
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... Legg’s pioneering work, Newspapers and Nationalism, in tracing how immediately the insights of Benedict Anderson can be mapped onto the growth and form of Irish nationalist consciousness in imagining a community. But his overall preoccupation is with disunion rather than Union. Though he opens by unearthing D.P. Moran’s 1904 parody of A Midsummer ...

The Partisan

Jeremy Harding, 23 June 1994

The Search for Africa: A History in the Making 
by Basil Davidson.
Currey, 373 pp., £25, March 1994, 0 85255 719 1
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... of what she calls his ‘romantic connoisseurship of struggle’. In the Guardian (October 1992) Benedict Anderson took issue with Davidson on several counts: that the virtues of armed anti-colonial struggle which he affirmed, especially in Portuguese Africa, were soon undone ‘by Stalinism and one-party bureaucratic dictatorships’; that if the ...

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