Technology and Nationalism
Reading Summary for Adria Text, Pages 1-71
Chapter One of Technology and Nationalism explains the primordial view and perrenialist view of
nationalism. The primordial view is the belief that natural divisions of nations exists, and each nation bears self-
evident, distinguishing cultural characteristics (19). In the primordial view, a citizens main duty is remembering their
duty to their nation. The perrenial view does not regard national identity as simply being natural. A cultural community
is immemorial, an organic entity that has taken different forms in recorded history (21). Nationalism is simply a
modern way in which ancient cultures can take shape. It then talks about Gellner, who argued that nationalism
appeared and flourished at those stages in the development of a political association in which the benefits of
modernization were felt to be unfairly distributed (23). Education was crucial to Gellner in the development of national
movements. The chapter then talks about identity and how identity is linked to the desire to create a nation identity.
We find our identities through difference, i.e., the fact that we are different from other people.
Chapter Two talks about many things, such as the way that technology can either extend nationalism or
separate it. The example given in the reading is of how the technological innovation of the dike in the Netherlands
helped maintain a separate way of life for the Dutch because it required patterns of work and social life that had at
their centre the maintenance of distinctive agricultural methods (35). The chapter discusses how the same medium
can mean different things for different cultures. For example, the radio was a way of developing a regional music
identity for the colonized, but for the colonists, the radio was an unseen telephone cable that connected the
colonists to home (40). Technologies also acted as a buffer between the two cultures, and encouraged development
of other distinct cultures out of this.
The chapter explains the theories of Deutsch, Anderson, and Hobsbawm, and the phrases imagined
communities and invented tradition crop up. Imagined communities are enabled by maps, census, and museums;
invented tradtions occur because of the rapidly changing modern era, and an example would be our adoption of the
maple leaf as a national emblem (44).
George Grant believed that technologys ultimate use in Canada would be to achieve economic and political
subordination to the United States (49). In contrast, Cook believed that nationalism in Canada threatened the nations
diversity; technology would strengthen this diversity (49). The chapter devotes a lot of time to discussing the Cuban
Missile Crisis of 1962 and how it was an episode of awakening in Canadian history (51). In response to the crisis,
Grant condemned technology because it carried the risk of increasing cultural homogeneity (52). Grant believed that
Diefenbaker was a true nationalist for hesitating to immediately succumb to American demands, but because of this
the ruling class felt he needed to be removed. Grant was afraid that technology would leave Canada a homogenous
and hollow society (58), devoid of any mystery or risk (57).
Cook was more interested in nationalism than technology. He didnt think about technology too much, just
believed that it was a great thing that would make everybodys lives easier. To compare Grant and Cook: both sought
self-determinative powers for the Canadian state (65). The chapter ends by summing up how Grant and Cooks ideas
have changed since the 1960s and 80s.
Reading Summary Above; what I highlighted from the book below
Chapter One: Explaining Nationalism
- it is easy to define nation but harder to define nationalism
- events that are examples of the emergence of modern nationalism:
- French Revolution, English Civil War, and so on (15)
- the emergence of nationalism paralleled the emergence of the nation-state
- the nation state created itself by making territorial claims and then defended itself by warfare
- nationalism was an expression of the nation-states legitimacy
- Modernist view is that nationalism is a political and social configuration, an innovation or invention (17). It is the
alignment of nation and state for the pursuit of modernization.
- We have to examine nationalism over history, not just the modernist view.- Primordial view:
- a natural divisions of nations exists, and each nation bears self-evident, distinguishing cultural
- the role of a citizen is to affirm their citizenship by acts such as expressing allegiance to the homeland
- Remembering Is the primary duty of the nationalist Sometimes the national culture is weakened when
members forget their duty to the nation.
- Citizens have a moral responsibility to contribute to the corporate efforts of all humanity
- Herder (primordial view)
- father of cultural nationalism because he felt that cultures should exult in [their] difference (20)
- The source of national culture is language (20)
- an individual becomes aware of selfhood and nationhood through language (20)
- happiness springs from prejudice? (21) because it attaches nations more firmly to their roots.
- Today primordial view has become a secondary concern of scholars because of the violent consequences of its
use by nationalists in Eastern Europe. (21) But it was still applied to Canadian culture, where George Grant said the
first principle of cultural development should be loving our own (21)
- Perrenialist View:
- doesnt regard blood ties as the basis for national identity (21)
- a cultural community is immemorial, an organic entity that has taken different forms in recorded history
- Nationalism is new, but nations are not (21)
- Nationalism is modern and updated administrative form within which an ancient culture takes shape (22)
-The Modernist Explanation for Nationalism and Its Critics
- argued that industrialization requires just the kind of cultural homogeneity that is coincident with the
unifying call of a nationalist sentiment
- nationalism causes nations (22)
- in industrial society, there is constant technological innovation and a continuous redefinition of social roles.
- gellners account of nationalism departs from primordialist explanations in its concern to show that the