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A Life Beyond Boundaries: A Memoir
An intellectual memoir by the author of the acclaimed Imagined Communities
Born in China, Benedict Anderson spent his childhood in California and Ireland, was educated in England and finally found a home at Cornell University, where he immersed himself in the growing field of Southeast Asian studies. He was expelled from Suharto’s Indonesia after revealing the military to be behind the attempted coup of 1965, an event which prompted reprisals that killed up to a million communists and their supporters. Banned from the country for thirty-five years, he continued his research in Thailand and the Philippines, producing a very fine study of the Filipino novelist and patriot José Rizal in The Age of Globalization.
In A Life Beyond Boundaries, Anderson recounts a life spent open to the world. Here he reveals the joys of learning languages, the importance of fieldwork, the pleasures of translation, the influence of the New Left on global thinking, the satisfactions of teaching, and a love of world literature. He discusses the ideas and inspirations behind his best-known work, Imagined Communities (1983), whose complexities changed the study of nationalism.
Benedict Anderson died in Java in December 2015, soon after he had finished correcting the proofs of this book. The tributes that poured in from Asia alone suggest that his work will continue to inspire and stimulate minds young and old.
Benedict Anderson About Nationalism (In mijn vaders huis, 1994)
The interview starts at 2.25 minutes
Published on Nov 12, 2013
Anil Ramdas interviews Benedict Anderson about his book "Imagined communities"
The introduction is in Dutch.
See the English transcript of the introduction below:
"What the eye is for the lover, is language for the patriot.
Because in the national language, according to Benedict Anderson, we imagine a community to which we belong.
The community, the nation that has always been there and gives us a sense of connection with people that we will never meet, but of whom we know that they exist.
They are our peers, we share the same language, a same history, believe the same myths, have the same habits and we read the same newspapers.
With this approach on Nationalism, Benedict Anderson entered an area which had been anxiously avoided by other scientists.
Nationalism was a scary thing, it incited murder, racism and anti-Semitism.
Benedict Anderson disagrees, Nationalism is exactly what the word says love for the fatherland.
A love for the place where you were born, where you feel at home, where you can instinctively communicate in your mother tongue. A love for the symbols that give that place a special value. The flag, the national anthem, the festive memorials.
This love can be neglected for a long period of time and even seem ridiculous at times. Till that time when the fatherland is being threatened, humiliated or oppressed. At those times our love seems to be that intense that we are prepared to die for it.
Benedict Anderson is South-East Asia specialist at the Cornell University in New York.
He is one of 4 or 5 thinkers in the world that really has a voice in such general subjects as nation forming and Nationalism.
His book "Imagined Communities" was translated into multiple languages and even made into a movie. It's a book in which it is impossible to underline the important passages, because you would otherwise have to underline the whole book.
He himself says about the book that it maybe peculiar that it was written someone who was born in China, grew up in three different countries, speaks with an antiquated English accent, has an Irish passport, lives in the United States and from there studies the cultures of Indonesia and Thailand.
This and other peculiar things about language and nationalism will be the subject of our conversation"