Tag: Benedict Anderson

Another Question Raised by Benedict Anderson: What Makes an Idea Exciting for You?

What makes Benedict Anderson a scholar of such surpassing stature is that he transcends the challenges to his ideas. His ideas are so much a part of the mental furniture of the age—like “banality of evil,” “imagined communities” is now part of a larger lingua franca—that they lie beyond right and wrong. Confronted with his work, we move into a different sphere of engagement with him. Where the question is less whether his ideas are correct than whether and how they grab you. For many people, it’s clear that Anderson’s ideas have and continue to have a hold on them. I’ve never felt that way. On a Facebook thread related to my earlier post, I commented that it was the work of Benedict Anderson’s brother Perry […]

Benedict Anderson, 1936-2015

Benedict Anderson has died. In the coming days, I’m hoping someone at Crooked Timber like Henry Farrell or Chris Bertram writes something more substantive about his contributions. While I read Imagined Communities, it never touched me in the way it has so many other scholars and students. Reading people’s comments on Facebook and Twitter, I’m struck by how intellectually diverse his audience was, how ride-ranging his reach. All morning, people from so many different fields and persuasions have been testifying to Anderson’s impact upon them and their work. Which leads to a thought: I’d put Anderson up there with Clifford Geertz and, increasingly, Jim Scott as among the most influential scholars of the last half-century. All of them scholars of Southeast Asia. […]