What binds a nation together? Is it defined by allegiance to a flag, history and tradition or a constructed narrative about the nation-state? Can the ‘truth’ of national identity be found in fixed racial categories, myths about origins, and certain primordial ‘facts’:- or must it be imagined into existence?
“(The nation)… is imagined because 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 community.” [Benedict Anderson. “Imagined Communities”]
Perhaps in our quest for order we create patterns of exclusion…
“Where the mind is without fear
and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been
broken up into fragments
by narrow domestic walls; …
Where the clear stream of reason
has not lost its way into the
dreary desert sand of dead habit; …
Into that heaven of freedom,
my Father, let my country awake”.
From Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore. (1913)