chapter  10
Communities real and imagined
Pages 20

Benedict Anderson proposed a now famous definition of the nation: ‘it is an imagined political community-and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign’.1 It is an illuminating definition when we consider the nature of disagreements over claims for national secession. For characteristically these involve the imagining of different limits on the scope of political communities and corresponding differences as to the sovereign states there ought to be. The connection Anderson makes between the limits of nations and the boundaries of states is indeed crucial to understanding what claims to national secession come to: they are founded on the presumption that, whatever a nation is, it is at least something which has, other things being equal, a right to independent statehood.2