Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

Imagining Ourselves

Dec 15, 2015

I should acknowledge the recent death of British scholar Benedict Anderson since I so shamelessly ripped off his notion of "imagined communities" for my 1997 book National Dreams. Anderson, who wrote many books, was an historian of nationalism as well as an expert on Southeast Asia.

I thought when I wrote Dreams, and I still think, that it is very useful to think of Canada as, well, imaginary. Or perhaps better, imagined. Anderson wrote: "the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion." I tried to run with this idea by examining some of the "images of communion" that have helped Canadians imagine themselves into being.

Obituaries of Anderson are here and here.