Bakhtin and the Nation

Bakhtin and the Nation

Bakhtin and the Nation

Bakhtin and the Nation

Synopsis

"The end of the twentieth century is marked by historic changes in nation-states and in the concepts of the nation and of nationalism. The ten essays in this volume give to the reader an inquiry into the problem of the nation with, and sometimes surpassing, the help of Russian philosopher Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

The end of the century is marked by historic changes in nationstates and in the concepts of the nation and of nationalism. the essays in this volume give to the reader an inquiry into the problem of the nation with, and sometimes surpassing, the help of Russian philosopher Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin. Bakhtin died a quarter century ago, and much has happened since in history and in scholarship, so it is not unusual that we exceed our guiding thinker; it is in any event in the spirit of Bakhtin that we refuse to be disciples even as we try to think with his categories.

In line with current debates and scholarship on the nation, national identity, and nationalist projects, we have found it useful to divide the topic into three general categories: 1) the nation as a cultural entity; 2) the nation as a civil state; and 3) the nation within the global community of nations—the issue of the transnational. According to modernization theorists Ernest Gellner and Eric Hobsbawm, the nation is the first modern form of collective identity. That is, nationness is based on a communal sense of shared traditions and beliefs, instead of merely a community founded within geopolitical boundaries. Following on from Gellner and Hobsbawm is Benedict Anderson’s influential concept of the nation as an imagined community: while generating new scholarship, including passionate refutations, Anderson’s book reminded scholars of all the ways in which identity is developed and kept going, in a kind of collective unconscious of a nation’s citizens. the scholarship spurred by Anderson’s book tries to break with traditional forms of thinking, which looked to the past to track the foundations of political institutions through one kind of history of great men. Much cultural criticism today takes up such aspects of the nation as everyday life, popular culture, and the marginal voices often ignored by dominant narratives.

While flunking about the nation as a cultural entity allows otherwise marginal figures, often not seen as participants in the creation of the nation, to become visible and powerful agents, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the nation has been and remains a civil and political institution. the state plays a role in forming any national . . .

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