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Anderson’s final examples of the modular, compelling and adaptable nature of nationalism are found in the formation of nation states after World War II. The postcolonial nation-building in Africa and Asia at this time drew on lessons from European, Creole and official nationalisms, while emphasizing youth and anti-imperialism. Both sincere and self-conscious, this “last wave” (113) of nationalism employed tools for national identity like the map and census to imagine the validity of their political community.
Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities is a conceptual toll-kit that helps us understand the origin, function and power of nationalism. The smoothness with which he explains both the abstract and concrete, and the clarity of his arguments, soften the demands upon his audience. The most compelling image is that of Indonesian school children sitting in the classroom, looking at the map of the archipelago, and learning they were the blue-colored islands in the Indian Ocean. The blue-colored islands, Indonesia, that was who they were.