The Rise of Nation – State
The Rise of Nation-State
Benedict Anderson was an Anglo – Irish political scientist and historian who lived and taught in the United States. Anderson is known for his 1983 book Imagined Communities, which explored the origin of nationalism. He famously pointed out that a nation is an “ imagined community ‘’. It means that the citizen of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow members, nor would they meet or even hear of them. Yet, in the minds of each lives, the image of their communion. Nations have been “ invented “ in their minds – with finite boundaries, sovereignty and fraternity feeling among its members.
The rise of nation-state is quite a recent invention and gained ground in the 1780-1914 period. The historian Eric Hobsbawm in his book “ Nation and Nationalism “ points to the extraordinary social condition of that period, which gave rise to the notion of “ US “ as different from “ FOREIGNER “.
The first social condition was the onrush of modernity as a result of the industrial revolution and the widespread deployment of the railway system. This made many traditional elites feel threatened.
The second social condition was the rise of a non-traditional middle class in the urban centers . These non-traditional middle class included teachers, lawyers, and engineers.
The third factor which gave rise to the notion of a nation-state was the unprecedented transcontinental migration of that period. The Irish and East Europeans were migrating to North America. The Spanish and Portuguese to South America and Africans to the Caribbean and the USA.