Monday, September 17, 2012

Hi all,

Welcome to the 2012 Imagined Networks Blog.  As you can see, this site has been used previously and contains a rich archive of reading responses / comments to older versions of this course.

As I mentioned in my email, in a reading response, you may want to:

  • cite a passage you found particularly challenging/intriguing and state why you found it so (this is really helpful, since it lets us know what needs to be clarified in section)
  • identify a larger topic or question that you think connects the different texts.
  • offer a critique of one or more of the pieces.
Or, since the readings for any given week engage the same topic in a different manner, you can also argue for one interpretation over another.

I look forward to reading these responses and to the course this semester.



1 comment:

Saudi said...

“While it is essential to keep in mind an idea of fatality, in the sense of a general condition of irremediable linguistic diversity, it would be a mistake to equate fatality with that common element of national ideologies which stresses the primordial fatality of particular languages and their association with particular territorial units. The essential thing is the interplay between fatality, technology and capitalism.” [Anderson, 43]

I really was confused at first, and the fascinated by the concept of fatality of vernacular languages. The way that Anderson thinks of the relationship between the fatal fate of vernacular languages in pre-modern Europe invokes the idea of a sifter. The sifter made it possible for people speaking many different languages to understand each other under a common set of principles. Throughout his book, Anderson claims this to be basic “glue” that holds together imagined national communities. The process by which peoples with regionalist mentalities and vernaculars, that were perhaps representative of their sense of self, gave up all of this for a sense of belonging in a community they could not fully see or interact with daily is both puzzling and painful. What a leap of faith! Were they coerced into speaking the official language? Did they adopt it freely? How (and did they) come to accept this new language as part of their daily reality?

The threshold moment, the turning point at which one language is traded for another represents entry into an imagined community and the amenities that it brings. This psychological process probably undergirds similar process of entry into other imagined communities. What other examples would there possibly be of this sacrifice of the self through the sifter of the fatality of uniqueness?
A contemporary example I can think about in relation to the acceptance of the fatality of difference as a social fact for entry into imagined communities is the creation and popularization of Facebook. The social ramifications of not belonging to this (massive) imagined community are not as harsh as lack of citizenship, access to printed work and representation. They are, however, unthinkable for the millions who have accustomed themselves to it. We have sifted and traded our individuality for the principle of belonging in the web community, a place so homogenous, yet that also function as a unique space for you. Just as a subject can write and speak official languages in a way that offers a modicum of uniqueness amidst sameness, so can we upload photos and news items that speak to our individuality. I wonder if there was any resistance to the sift-and-consolidate course of action that eliminated many vernacular languages? What about the colonial connection on page 113, “the very large number of these “mainly non-European nations (that) came to have European languages-of-state?” Did they resist, or was linguistic fatality too strong a social fact?