Interview with Benedict Anderson: "I like nationalism's utopian elements"
I recently interviewed Benedict Anderson. He wrote one of the most read books on nationalism, “Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism”. I was surprised over Andersons positive views on nationalism. He thinks that nationalism can be an attractive ideology because it makes you feel that you're member of a society:
"You follow the laws because they are your laws - not always, because you perhaps cheat on your tax forms, but normally you do. Nationalism encourages good behaviour. (...) I am probably the only one writing about nationalism who doesn’t think it ugly. I actually think that nationalism can be an attractive ideology. I like its Utopian elements."
Anderson is quite critical towards recent theories of globalisation and modernity. Despite all the talk of transnationalism and fluid identities, he stressed, nationalism is in the best of health. Newer examples of nationalism are the long-distance nationalisms of migrants: Jews in the USA fighting for a state in the Middle East, or Tamils in Norway working for their own state in Sri Lanka. Some of the most ardent Sikh nationalist are situated in Australia and Canada - thanks to the Internet and cheap airline tickets.
One thing that fascinates Benedict Anderson is how nationalism evolves along with other developments in society. Right now nationalism “clashes” with the Internet and mobile technologies. Previously it “clashed” with the women’s movement.
>> read the whole interview (Link updated with copy. I also published a copy at https://www.lorenzk.com/english/2005/benedict-anderson-interview/)