by Alfajri S.IP MIA


Ditulis oleh Hizra Marisa, pada : 11 Januari 2016 10:45:25 WIB

Benedict Anderson defined a nation as "an imagined political community - and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign” (Anderson, 1991). He argued that a nation "is 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” (Anderson, 1991).

Even though there is a possibility that the citizen of the country or as Anderson put it ‘members of the community’ will never know each of the other face to face, but the may identify themselves as part of the nation due to similar interest. Also, a nation is an imagined community because: “regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship. Ultimately it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to die for such limited imaginings”

The nation as imagined community is described as limited and sovereign. It is limited in that nations have "finite, if elastic boundaries, beyond which lie other nations" and it is sovereign in the modern period due to no dynastic monarchy can claim authority over them, as stated (Anderson, 1991): ‘The concept was born in an age in which Enlightenment and Revolution were destroying the legitimacy of the divinely-ordained, hierarchical dynastic realm.

Coming to maturity at a stage of human history when even the most devout adherents of any universal religion were inescapably confronted with the living pluralism of such religions, and the allomorphism [incongruence, divide] between each faith's ontological claims and territorial stretch, nations dream of being free, and, if under God, directly so. The gage and emblem of this freedom is the sovereign state”

Anderson extended his argument by emphasising the role of media in creating the imagined communities. He mentioned “Print Capitalism” has helped to form the imagined community. In order to increase their circulation of their book and media, the Capitalist entrepreneurs according to Anderson, printed them in various local dialects. The impact of this action enabled the community to understand each other as well as to establish a common discourse. Thus, Anderson argued that the first European nation-states were thus formed around their "national print-languages." (Anderson, 1991)

Benedict Anderson constructed his theory on nationalism since he felt that both Marxist and Liberal theory had not explained it adequately. He shares similar perspective with Ernest Gellnar and Eric Hobsbawm when he viewed the nation and nationalism as products of modernity. They believe that the nation and nationalism have been created as means to political and economic end. However, in contrast to Gellnar and Hobsbawn, Anderson thinks that nationalism is not obsolete in a globalising world.

Nationalism is “a modern ideology that tries to explain the individual devotion to the nation-states by neglecting other interest” (Salih 2011). In order to obtain a clear understanding about nation and nationalism Salih stated as follows: The concept of “nation” is historically older than nationalism as a political movement. The English word of nation comes from the Latin word nasci, which literally means ‘to be born’. The word has gradually taken the meaning of large group of people with common ancestry. The idea of nation takes shape in conjunction with cultural political and psychological factors. Language, religion, history, literature, folkloric themes (epic, myths, legends), and customs are the element creating bonds among a group of people that transform a nation.

Anthony Smith (2010) made a categorisation of nationalism and he distinguishes the objective factor of language, religion, customs, territory and institution from the subjective category of attitudes, perception and sentiment. Meanwhile, the idea of nation as a cultural entity dates back to 18th century German political thinkers. Johann Gottfried von Herder, who was the first author to mention each nation has a cultural distinctiveness. He emphasised the importance of language and asserted that certain ideas of an individual in one language could not be understood in another language (Hayes 1927).

Ernest Gellner (1983) defines nationalism ‘as primarily a political principle that hold the political and the national unit should be congruent’. He paid specific attention to the role of modernisation and industrialisation in the spread of nationalism. Also, he conceptualised the culture of the industrial age as high culture transmitted through education.

Salih (2011) stated that the concepts of political nation and nationalism have been generally understood in the European context. As a result, the national identity and nation state ‘have peculiar problems in the third world, where two major streams have followed’. He describe the two major streams as followed: First, national identities were built up during their struggles for freedom in national independence wars against colonial powers. These identities were strongly shaped under the anti colonial characteristics of that period. Second, national identity was shaped by territorial boundaries. These borders were usually inherited form the colonial past. Nevertheless, the differences in ethnic and political identities generate tensions within the nation and from time to time escalate into conflict.

According to Salih (2011), Ozkirimly (2000) stated there are tensions in the definition of the theories of nationalism, ‘whether it is the old, naturally given sense or a fabricated output of modernity’. In the context of globalisation era, the salience concept of nationalism (Malesevic 2013) is unavoidable due to the fact that globalism has influenced the way we view the nationalism. However, globalism has never really erased the existence of nationalism (Malesevic 2013, James & Paul 2007), rather it reproduce new form of nationalism and it also creates avenue to the emergence of anti-globalism (James & Paul 2007).

Nationalism morphed into a new form where at the same time it remains the dominant actor in shaping the current world. In early heyday of the concept of nationalism, the long distance nationalism had never been discussed and anticipated as present time and this is one example of the salience concept of nationalism in this age. People can influence and play critical role in his ancestry or homeland without living in that country and on the contrary, he lives well protected in other nation-state far away from the homeland (Anderson, 1992). In other version, the intertwined relationship between globalism and nationalism which enabled the emergence concept of long distance of nationalism portrayed by Danforth (1995) as the contruction of transnational national communities.

As in Meinecke’s (1919) definition of political nations, ‘the significance of citizenship is more intensive than that of ethnicity’ and he also argued that ‘heterogeneity is one of the common indicators of these countries’ (USA and UK are the examples of this type political nation). With regard to the future of nationalism, many scholars have questioned and argued against the argument that nationalism remains as the principal source of legitimacy in current era. Those scholars (Harvey 2009; Bauman 2006; 2000; Beck 2007; 2006; 2002; Kaldor 2004; Castells 1998) general argument is that ‘globalization promote ever- increasing individualism, cosmopolitanism and the tendency of human beings to identify as individualised customers rather than member of distinct nation-states’ (Malesevic, 2013).

On the contrary Malesevic (2013) argues that it is a misconception of past era to think that the emergence of globalisation, cosmopolitanism or religious solidarity (such as greater belief on ummah for Muslim) have weakened and demised the nationalism. He aslo emphasises that a nation-state, on behalf of nationalism has managed to obtain more control over entire territory compared to period of nineteenth and early twentieth century. It is clearly understood that the current nationalism has enabled a nation-state to perform and function much better to collect tax, to police and protect its border, and collect information of their citizen (official statistics, conscriptions, birth certificates, passport, etc). This capacity is substantially and significantly developed in the twentieth century (Mann 2012; 1993; 1986; Colhoun 2007).


*tentang penulis: Alfajri S.IP MIA diamanahi sebagai Dekan FISIPOL periode 2015 - 2019. Beliau juga tercatat sebagai osen pada Program Studi Hubungan Internasional (HI) di Universitas Abdurrab. Pria kelahiran 22 September 1983 tersebut merupakan alumni The Australian National University (Master of International Affairs). Memiliki segudang pengalaman di dalam dan luar negeri, Alfajri juga pernah tercatat sebagai Consular Affairs Officer di Konsulat Umum RI di Melbourne. Saat ini ia juga masih aktif menulis untuk jurnal dalam dan luar negeri dengan kajian Hubungan Internasional.



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