Sunday, September 23, 2012

Nationalism, is it really new?

Coming from an age of modernity and technology, I was very interested reading and learning about Anderson’s argument on construction of nationalism and nation-states. In the book, he argues that each nation-state is built upon a preexisting society of common language. This language creates a boundary and allows only certain speakers to communicate with each other. And through his detailed explanations of how print capitalism became the catalyst of spreading the notion of nationalism, he argues that nationalism is strongly interlinked with language. However, it left me to question his arguments that print capitalism triggered the notion of nationalism.  He explains that community came into existence from that of language, written scripts. From old Latin to new vernacular, people started to associate and differentiate themselves with and from others based on their own language. Hence, the language created the imaginary boundary. This power of language to transform the ways that people think of time and to found the concept of nation is something that intrigued me. What I don’t quite understand is it may only apply to the states that are newly created or formed, a new place that needs a new sense of being. For example, I am from Korea. I know that I am part of Korean community and that there are such things as North and South Korea not because it is imagined but because it is deeply rooted in history. Wars, colonization, imperialism, racism are the things that come along with the idea of nationalism, and that is how I mainly recognize my identity as a Korean. One of the reasons that Korean people have very strong nationalism is, in my opinion, the constant attacks and colonization from other countries throughout the history. As Anderson mentioned in his book, even though the concept of nation is very young, people treat it like it has a long history and some are even willing to sacrifice their lives for it. However, this strong awareness of nationalism can’t simply spring up out of nowhere. I think countries with long history can better mobilize their citizens to have strong nationalism to protect and guard their own motherlands. 

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