Early American Nations as Imagined Communities
Abstract

Despite the enormous influence of Benedict Anderson's Imagined Communities on the study of early American nationalism, there have been few careful assessments of its historical or theoretical arguments. The schema of the "Creole Pioneers" section rests on a conflation of the American Revolution with the Latin American revolutions of a generation later, with a misleading caricature of print culture to the north. Theoretically, Anderson's insights about colonial seriality are drastically exaggerated. A more accurate account of American nationalism can be traced through the nation concept's development in the discourse on Native Americans; ethnographies famously developed a discourse of the nation as Other. The shift to the modern nation concept resulted from practical and conceptual attempts to master Indian nations, in land speculation and in the writing of imperiographies. This conflicted lineage resulted in a revolution committed at times to the nation, at others to the continent.


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