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PhD & RMa Workshop: Imagined Communities (12-09-2013 & 24-09-2013)

Imagined communities – reflections on the spread of an inspiring concept, 1983-2013

Date: Thursday 12 September 2013
Time: 09.45-18.30 hrs
Venue: Doelenzaal UB (until 16 hrs); OMHP D0.008 (17-18.30 hrs)
Open to: Research Master students and PhD researchers affiliated with the Huizinga Institute
Fee (non-members): € 50
Credits: 1 ECTS (on request)
Coordination: Gemma Blok, Vincent Kuitenbrouwer and others (UvA/Huizinga)
Additional workshop for ReMa students: Tuesday 24  September 2013, 13-15 hrs, PCH 605

Registration for PhD candidates
Registration for RMa students

Imagined communities:
reflections on the spread of an inspiring concept, 1983-2013

Since Benedict Anderson introduced the concept of the nation as an ‘imagined community’ in his classic study Imagined communities. Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism (1983), it has been a source of inspiration for scholars all over the world. This seminar sets out to explore the use and adaptations of the concept ‘imagined community’ (verbeelde gemeenschap) in scholarship from the Low Countries over the past thirty years, where it has been influential amongst academics who study nationalism but also in other fields of research. For instance, the concept is being employed in media history, the history of science, migration history, the transnational history of social movements and the history of the West before the 18th century. Variations on the concept have also been formulated such as the ‘virtual community’ and the ‘embodied community’.

How and why are scholars from the Low Countries building on Anderson’s original concept, and wherein lies its inspiration and value for research in the humanities? This is the central question of this seminar, which takes an interdisciplinary approach. It will look at the application of the concept of the ‘imagined community’ in various fields of study, where it has been applied in order to analyse changing divisions of the social world, and the making and representation of all kinds of groups in society throughout history.

In a one day seminar on 12 September, 5 researchers will explore the shaping of collective identities in various contexts will be explored, within and beyond the limits of national borders. Benedict Anderson will give a key-note lecture at the end of the seminar, to reflect on the presentations and on the scope of the concept he invented 30 years ago.

Conference schedule:

 9.45 doors open

10.15 – 11.00 Prof. Dr. Ann Rigney (UU): ‘Embodied communities; or how collective identities were performed in nineteenth-century cities’
11.00 – 11.45 Dr. Alexander Dhoest (U Antwerpen): ‘The image community: Public service television drama and the construction of a Flemish nation’

11.45 B

12.15 – 13.00 Dr. Claire Weeda (UvA): ‘Meanwhile in Messianic time: premodern ethnic identification within the history of humanity’

13.00 B

14.00 – 14.45 Dr. Barbara Henkes (RUG): ‘Transnational families we live by: the making and unmaking of Dutchness in 20th century South-Africa’
14.45 – 15.30 Drs. Klaas Stutje (UvA) : ‘Transnational conjunctions, national interpretations. An analysis of the 1927 Brussels Conference against imperialism’

PDF – Flyer Imagined Communities

Keynote lecture prof. Benedict Anderson:
Lost in translation – The odd history of Imagined Communities 1983-2013

Date: Thursday 12 September 2013
Time: 17.00-18.30 hrs
Venue: OMHP D008, University of Amsterdam

Abstract will follow soon.

Note that only a very limited amount of PhD’s can participate: 5. Be sure to register as soon as possible via this website. Additionally, send a separate motivation letter (one paragraph) describing how you make use of Anderson’s concept of Imagined Communities in your own research to

The maximum amount of participating Research Master students is 20. Register via this website.  For both PhD candidates and ReMa students there will be a waiting list. If you are registered and a confirmed participant, we will be counting on your participation. If you are unable to attend, please inform us in time.

Readings, preparation, assignments


  • Benedict Anderson, Imagined communities. Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism (1983). Ch. 1, 2 & 3, and (at least) 4 other chapters at the discretion of each participant.
  • Benedict Anderson, The spectre of comparisons. Nationalism, South East Asia and the World (1998). Ch. 1, 2 & 3 and 16 & 17.

Preparation PhD researchers

PhD researchers are invited to participate in the seminar itself. They can introduce one speaker and act as referent and discussion leader after his/her lecture. They will read the paper of ‘their’ speaker beforehand, which they will receive at least 10 days in advance. PhD researchers should prepare at least one question for the speaker.

Preparation Research Master students

Research Master students will write an essay of 1200-1500 words, in which they will refer to both the literature they have read and the lectures they have heard on 12 September. In the essay, students have to reflect on the following questions:

  • How has Anderson’s concept of the imagined communities evolved  since 1983?
  • How could you apply the concept on your own academic field/ topic(s) of interest?

Submit via; deadline: Thursday 19 September 15.00.

The essays will be read and graded (with ‘AVV’ [pass] or ‘NAV’ [does not pass]) by, and discussed, with the organisers of the seminar (Gemma Blok, Camille Creyghton, Vincent Kuitenbrouwer, Merel Leeman & Claire Weeda), during a workshop on Tuesday 24 September, 13-15 hrs.  Participation in this workshop is obligatory for ReMa students to obtain the ECTS. PhD researchers are welcome to join the discussion.

Credits & certificate
Certificates of participation and credits are available upon request after the event. Event coordinators will decide whether the participant has fulfilled all requirements for the ECTS. Please direct your request to and include the postal address you want the certificate send to. Note: the certificate itself is not valid as ECTS, you need to validate it yourself at your local Graduate School.