The Nation in Post-Neo Liberal Latin American Cities: Buenos Aires, Lima, Montevideo
During more than two centuries of debate over the meaning of the word “nation” scholars have come up with confusing and contradictory definitions. In 1882 Ernest Renan asked: “What is the Nation?” In his much-cited lecture Renan could not come to a definite conclusion, except to say that “The love of the nation is….spontaneous and … voluntary, because it emerges naturally among the members of a given community”. Max Weber argued that the nation was a “community of sentiment”; others identified the nation with the state, others with nationalism, and still others, like Benedict Anderson, described it as an “imagined community”. Marxists like Hobsbawm have argued that it is nationalism that makes “the nation” rather than the other way round. I ask three basic questions: 1) Does “the nation” really exists as a reference in the collective imaginary? 2) Is there a correlation between the adoption of neo-liberal policies and the changes that seem to be affecting national identity around the world? 3) Is “the nation” something real or can we at this point argue that it is just the creation of the upper classes, governments, and scholars?