Multiple Nationalism: Slovak National Concepts in Nineteenth-Century Hungary and Benedict Anderson’s ‘Imagined Communities’

This article is a case study of nineteenth-century Slovak nationalism. Nineteenth-century Slovaks expressed loyalty to both a Hungarian ‘political nation’ and a Slavic ‘cultural’ or ‘linguistic’ nation. Furthermore, Slovaks also invoked multiple linguistic nations, variously imagined as Pan-Slavic, Czechoslovak or Slovak. Slovak ideas of ‘nationality’ are compared with Hungarian and Croat concepts. Slovaks insisted on referring to both Hungarian and Slavic loyalties as ‘national,’ and a discussion of nineteenth-century Hungarian politics shows that ‘nation’ status bestowed concrete political benefits. The fact that historical actors invoke the ‘nation’ for multiple communities simultaneously suggests that the desire for statehood should not be a defining criterion of nationalism. Benedict Anderson’s theory of nationalism, however, can accommodate multiple nationalism, and the article ends with a revised ‘Andersonian’ definition of nationalism.