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Djojo on the Corner

Benedict Anderson, 24 August 1995

After the Fact: Two Countries, Four Decades, One Anthropologist 
by Clifford Geertz.
Harvard, 198 pp., £17.95, April 1995, 0 674 00871 5
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... Alfred Kroeber (1876), A.R. Radcliffe-Brown (1881), and Bronislaw Malinowski (1884), with Ruth Benedict (1887) at the tail end. The second generation were born in the decade 1901-11: Margaret Mead (1901), Edward Evans-Pritchard (1902), Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908), Edmund Leach (1910), Louis Dumont and Max Gluckman (1911). They were formed in the age of ...


Benedict Anderson, 21 January 1988

Colonial Identity in the Atlantic World, 1500-1800 
edited by Nicholas Canny and Anthony Pagden.
Princeton, 290 pp., £22, September 1987, 0 691 05372 3
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... New York, Nueva Leon, Nouvelle Orléans, Nova Lisboa and Nieuw Amsterdam – already in the 16th century, Western Europeans had begun the strange habit of naming remote places in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania as ‘new’ versions of (thereby) ‘old’ toponyms in their lands of origin. Moreover, they retained the habit even when these places passed under different masters, so that Nouvelle Orléans calmly became New Orleans, and Nieuw Zeeland New Zealand ...

First Filipino

Benedict Anderson, 16 October 1997

Noli Me Tangere 
by José Rizal, translated by Soledad Lacson-Locsin.
Hawaii, 451 pp., $47, June 1997, 0 8248 1917 9
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... Few countries give the observer a deeper feeling of historical vertigo than the Philippines. Seen from Asia, the armed uprising against Spanish rule of 1896, which triumphed temporarily with the establishment of an independent republic in 1898, makes it the visionary forerunner of all the other anti-colonial movements in the region. Seen from Latin America, it is, with Cuba, the last of the Spanish imperial possessions to have thrown off the yoke, seventy-five years after the rest ...

Creole Zones

Benedict Anderson, 7 November 1991

The First Americans: The Spanish Monarchy, Creole Patriots, and the Liberal State, 1492-1867 
by D.A. Brading.
Cambridge, 761 pp., £55, March 1991, 9780521391306
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... In the early hours of 12 October 1492, a lookout on the Pinta shouted in Latinic-Spanish to his captain and fellow seamen: Tierra! Tierra! The answering choral roar from below was, it appears, the Arabic-Spanish Albricias! That is to say, ‘Rewards!’* Since the last centennial commemoration of this operatic, multicultural exchange, its sonorities have profoundly changed ...

Gravel in Jakarta’s Shoes

Benedict Anderson, 2 November 1995

Generations of Resistance 
by Steve Cox and Peter Carey.
Cassell, 120 pp., £55, November 1995, 9780304332502
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... Oldest among its European competitors, the Portuguese transcontinental empire lasted the longest, collapsed the fastest, and left the most bloodshed and ruin behind it. It owed its durability to Portugal’s own backwardness and poverty – which ruled out the ambitious modernising colonialisms of industrial America, France, England and the Netherlands – and to its strategic position in Spain’s armpit, at the mouth of the Mediterranean, which earned it for centuries the backing of London’s naval might ...

Soaking in Luang Prabang

Benedict Anderson: The Water Festival in Laos, 18 June 1998

... In 1994, torpid Unesco awoke to the reality that Luang Prabang, the tiny royal capital of colonial-era Laos – core population about 16,000 – is the best-preserved, most beautiful old town left in South-East Asia, and so, the following year, solemnly declared it a World Heritage Site. ‘Besides, it’s true,’ as we used to say. The town is set on a remote bend of the legendary Mekong River, which runs almost 4500 kilometres from the Tibetan plateau down to the China Sea near Saigon, with only two bridges along its entire length ...

Frameworks of Comparison

Benedict Anderson, 21 January 2016

... decade – in no special order. First, my slightly younger brother, known to the world as Perry Anderson, but within the family by his original Irish name, Rory. After graduating from Oxford, I think in 1959, he plunged into Marxist politics and intellectual life. Along with some of his Oxford friends, he quickly moved to work at the recently established ...

Old Corruption

Benedict Anderson, 5 February 1987

... She is today, as the widowed ‘Cory’ Aquino, Time’s widely admired Woman of the Year. But she started life as Corazon Cojuangco, daughter of the wealthy sugar magnate Don Jose Cojuangco, and cousin of that Eduardo Cojuangco who in the Marcos era became one of the most notorious plunderers of the Filipino economy. She owes her present eminence to both names, but it is the earlier one that is the more significant for assessing the situation in which the Philippines finds itself ...

From Miracle to Crash

Benedict Anderson: The Asian economic crisis (April 1998), 16 April 1998

... On 11 March, 32 years after he directed the coup de force which brought him to power, President Suharto of Indonesia spoke the following words as he was sworn in for a seventh term of office: ‘We will never enjoy again an economic growth such as we have experienced for more than a quarter of a century.’ This is the language of the milltowns of New England, the coal-and-steel belts of Pennsylvania and Belgium, the ghost towns of Australia and the American West – places where capitalism has been and gone, leaving behind scarred landscapes and ruined social edifices ...

In a Pomegranate Chandelier

T.J. Clark: Benedict Anderson, 21 September 2006

Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism 
by Benedict Anderson.
Verso, 240 pp., £12.99, September 2006, 1 84467 086 4
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Under Three Flags: Anarchism and the Anti-Colonial Imagination 
by Benedict Anderson.
Verso, 224 pp., £14.99, January 2006, 1 84467 037 6
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... our thinking about the world. But it is understandable, and touching, that the first footnote to Benedict Anderson’s afterword to his new edition should read, in explanation of the trimming of the title in his text: ‘Aside from the advantages of brevity, IC restfully occludes a pair of words from which the vampires of banality have by now sucked ...

Hitler in Jakarta

Ira Katznelson, 7 November 1991

Language and Power: Exploring Political Cultures in Indonesia 
by Benedict Anderson.
305 pp., $44.95, January 1991, 0 8014 9758 2
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... Time of Darkness and a Time of Light’, one of eight essays collected in Language and Power, Benedict Anderson offers a beautifully crafted reading of this memoir. Kenang-Kenangan is quite different from autobiographies familiar in the West. Only a modest proportion of it is devoted to the protagonist; nor does the manuscript chronicle individual ...


Rosalind Mitchison, 17 September 1987

Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism 
by Benedict Anderson.
Verso, 160 pp., £5.95, November 1987, 0 86091 759 2
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Culture, Identity and Politics 
by Ernest Gellner.
Cambridge, 189 pp., £8.95, June 1987, 0 521 33667 8
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The Ethnic Origins of Nations 
by Anthony Smith.
Blackwell, 312 pp., £25, October 1986, 0 631 15205 9
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Us and Them: A Study of Group Consciousness 
by W.A. Elliott.
Aberdeen University Press, 164 pp., £12.50, November 1986, 9780080324388
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... These can be held to be descriptions of the necessary but not the sufficient conditions. To Benedict Anderson nationalism is the result of mass literacy and print. It is only, he argues, when people can imagine a nation that it can come into existence, and people will do this imagining only under the stimulus of common exposure to the same body of ...

In Hell

Marina Warner: Wat Phai Rong Wua, 13 September 2012

... In 1975 Benedict Anderson first visited the extensive monastery of Wat Phai Rong Wua, one of dozens in central Thailand; he returned in the 1990s and again a few years ago. Any wat is an imagined community, and this one, a Buddhist Disneyland, presents a special case for Anderson, whose curious book, The Fate of Rural Hell: Asceticism and Desire in Buddhist Thailand, enlivened with startlingly brash photographic evidence, is about currents in the national imagination, about modernity and about forms of religious practice (Seagull, £6 ...


Karl Miller, 5 February 1987

Another Day of Life 
by Ryszard Kapuściński.
Picador, 136 pp., £8.95, February 1987, 0 330 29844 5
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... caused a stir of approval in this country, while also raising doubts. In a recent New Left Review Benedict Anderson made sharp criticisms of the work of the journalist and poet James Fenton in which a comparison with that of Kapuściński was noted: you were left with the sense of two talented crisis-fancying literary tourists. Kapuściński exercises a ...

It’s a Knock-Out

Tom Nairn, 27 May 1993

The Spirit of the Age: An Account of Our Times 
by David Selbourne.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 388 pp., £20, February 1993, 1 85619 204 0
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... Hobsbawm’s Nations and Nationalism (1989), Fukuyama’s The End of History (1991) and Perry Anderson’s essays in A Zone of Engagement, for example. I know the spectrum of positions there is a wide one, which should not be tidied up to make it look more coherent than it is. It ranges from what Geoffrey Hawthorn, reviewing ...

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