Linguistic Anthropology

The study of language has been part of anthropology since the discipline started in the 1ate 1870s. This site is a place for linguistic anthropologists to post their work and discuss important events and trends in the field.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

(Re)Reading Benedict Anderson

I recommend Christopher Kelty's piece at Savage Minds, "Thoughts on Imagined Communities on Inauguration day." Each of Kelty's three points may be of interest to linguistic anthropologists and fellow travelers.

First, Kelty thinks about online news and the RSS feed in light of Benedict Anderson's suggestion that print capitalism, and newspapers in particular, allow people to imagine the nation united in "homogeneous empty time."
What makes the digitization of news significant then, and the advent of personalized news feeds and RSS readers troubling, is that it is now possible to imagine that my version of the New York Times is not the same as your version. Or more generally, that my sources for news are giving me an entirely different picture of the same phenomena or events or issues than yours.

Kelty also reflects on the links between nationalism and monolingualism, and on an odd assertion from Anderson: "We still have no giant multinationals in the world of publishing" (1991[1983]: 43).

Finally, he suggests that Anderson's notion of 'piracy' is ripe for further exploitation today. (E.g. "[The 'nation'] became available for pirating by widely different, and sometimes unexpected, hands" [67].)

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