Inviting essential outsiders in: imagining a cosmopolitan nation

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3 Citations (Scopus)


The article uses the archetype of a cosmopolitan, diasporic Jewish community to reassess the ‘imagined community’ of the nation. It takes as its starting point the notion of ‘Essential Outsiders’ mooted by Anthony Reid and Daniel Chirot in their so-titled, comparative study of Jewish and Chinese entrepreneurs in Europe and South-East Asia respectively. Drawing on Benedict Anderson’s methodological writings, the article discusses the possibility and desirability of such cross-cultural and continental comparisons. It uses work by Pheng Cheah, Heonik Kwon and Angharad Closs Stephens to examine the relationship between cosmopolitanism and nationalism, questioning whether this is indeed as antagonistic as it might first appear. Building on this analysis, the article explores alternatives to the bounded ‘imagined community’, of which ‘Essential Outsiders’ form a constituent part. The article considers new ways of thinking the nation using the guiding metaphor of ghosts and haunting. It asks: can the idea of Jews as ‘Essential Outsiders’ prompt the development of new models of national belonging for the twenty-first century?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)880-896
JournalEuropean Review of History/Revue Europeenne d'Histoire
Issue number5-6
Early online date3 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


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