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View Diary: DK as imagined community (38 comments)

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  •  Not imaginary, quite the opposite! (9+ / 0-)

    An imagined community is very real, but virtually so (and not only in an internet sense of the word).

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/....

    •  So the community is an entity? (0+ / 0-)

      Ok so we disagree.  See my comments elsewhere here where I elaborate.

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      by dov12348 on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 11:33:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It is an entity insofar as it is named as such. (9+ / 0-)

        For Anderson, who was writing about the development of nationalism, the nation is an "imagined community" in that it's a rhetorical construction, not something that has any kind of physical existence.

        In other words, there is nothing magical about the 49th parallel, such that anything north of it is intrinsically "Canadian" and anything south intrinsically "American"; that exists as a border between the nations only because we've all agreed that the nations themselves exist and that the 49th parallel (itself an entirely arbitrary designation) is the border between them.

        The very ideas of the "USA" or "Canada" are themselves products of this widespread imagining, rhetorical inventions that enable people in New York to feel some kind of identification with people in California as "fellow Americans" that they don't feel with people in Toronto.

        But "imagined" doesn't mean "imaginary" or "unreal"; insofar as nations have rhetorical power, power that manifests itself in real-world things like wars and border fences and passports and friendships or antagonisms, they are real despite being products of continual rhetorical construction, reinforcement, and belief.

        Were people to stop believing in them, they would cease to be real. But that doesn't change the fact that in the present context, in which people do believe in them, imagined communities—whether nations or websites—are, in every meaningful way, real entities, formed and guided by the combined rhetorical force of those who are continually speaking or writing them into existence.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 12:34:51 PM PST

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        •  Onine groups are very real, yes. (0+ / 0-)

          They are "voices" of real people.  If that's what you mean.

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          by dov12348 on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 12:49:40 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's not really what I mean. (6+ / 0-)

            I mean that the groups themselves are real entities in and of themselves, because they are named and identified as such by individual real people.

            It is the force of the group's being identified and named, the reinforcement of that identity whenever the group is identified and named, and the continuing belief that the group exists, that draws a rhetorical circumference around the group and causes it to exist.

            "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

            by JamesGG on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 01:16:46 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for this more detailed explanation of (4+ / 0-)

          Anderson's views. I was planning on fleshing them out tonight when I had time, but you've saved me the trouble!

          I first came across the phrase "imagined community" in relation to recent book on dissent in Czechoslovakia (Jonathan Bolton's 2012 book Worlds of Dissent). Bolton argues, quite interestingly and convincingly, that "dissident" movements like Charter 77 and Czech musical underground are best understood as "imagined communities" in Anderson' sense of the term. After all, Charter only had a few hundred actual signatories in a population of around 15 million... but it had tremendous influence (or at least its creation triggered a massive campaign of repression by the regime). Once the word started getting out, even people who didn't, and wouldn't, identify themselves as "dissidents" could feel affinity for Charter, a sense of belonging, because a mythological space for identification had been created on the cultural scene. It seems to me that the same is becoming true of the lefty blogosphere, and it's important.

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