Anderson, Benedict. “The Origins of National Consciousness”, in Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London, New York: Verso, 1991.
Page 58: – “Theorists of nationalism have often been perplexed, not to say irritated, by three paradigms. (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 – in the modern world everyone can, should, will ‘have’ a nationality, as he or she ‘has’ a gender – vs the irremediable particularity of its concrete manifestations, such that by definition, ‘Greek’ nationality is sui generis. (3) The ‘political’ power of nationalisms vs their philosophical poverty and even incoherence.”
Page 59: – “It would, I think, make things easier if one treated it as if it belonged with ‘kinship’ and ‘religion’, rather than with ‘liberalism’ and ‘fascism’. In an anthropological spirit, then I propose the following definition of the nation: it is an imagined political community – and imagined as both inherently limited and sovreign.”
Nations are (59-60):
– [Imagined] “[…] 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. […] 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 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 […] are imagined. Communities are to be distinguished, not by their falsity/genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined.”
– [Limited] “The nation is imagined as limited because even the largest of them, encompassing perhaps a billion living human beings, has finite, if elastic, boundaries, beyond which lie other nations.”
– [Sovereign] “It is imagined as sovereign because the concept was born in an age in which Enlightenment and Revolution were destroying the legitimacy of the divinely-ordained, hierarchical dynastic realm. Coming to maturity at a stage of human history when even the most devout adherents of any universal religion were inescapably confronted with the living pluralism of such religions, and the allomorphism between each faith’s ontological claims and territorial stretch, nations dream of being free, and, if under God, directly so. The gage and emblem of this freedom is the sovereign state.”
– [Community] “[…] 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.”