chapter  9
16 Pages

IMAGINED HOUSEHOLDS

ByCynthia M. Baker

Benedict Anderson describes a “nation” as “an imagined political community . . . 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” (1983: 6). He offers, as comparable to his own, descriptions by two other scholars of nationalism: “ ‘Nationalism is not the awakening of nations to self-consciousness: it invents nations where they do not exist’”; and “ ‘A nation exists when a significant number of people in a community consider themselves to form a nation, or behave as if they formed one’” (1983: 6, quoting Ernest Gellner and Hugh Seton-Watson, respectively). In keeping with his general thesis, Anderson suggests “imagines” as a substitute for “invents” in the former quotation, noting that “all communities are imagined [and] . . . are to be distinguished, not by their falsity/genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined” (1983: 6).