Time and the Global: Against the Homogeneous, Empty Communities in Contemporary Social Theory

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Abstract

What are the chronopolitics of global–local relations? This article reconsiders the oversymmetric portrayals of identity and nationalism in Benedict Anderson's Imagined Communities, and reopens questions about chronopolitics raised by Johannes Fabian in Time and the Other. Anderson relies heavily on Walter Benjamin, but seriously misunderstands him, in his portrayal of nations as parallel communities in ‘homogeneous, empty, time’. Against Anderson's premise that homogeneous, empty time is real, this article argues that calibrated asymmetries in global time were made real by colonial practices, that we have forgotten that glory and hierarchical self-assertion, not horizontal comradeship, were central to Europe's Rome-fantasizing imperial nations, and that élite diaspora have replaced imperial conquests precisely in the wake of decolonization and the rise of UN ideology.

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