Lecture 13 4th February 05

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  • 1. Site Visits: presentations National identity and museums displays
  • 2. Definitions
    • Nation state
      • A state which possesses external fixed, known, demarcated borders, and possesses an internal uniformity of rule.
    • Nation
      • A named people who acknowledge a shared solidarity and identity by virtue of a shared culture, history and territorial homeland.
    • Nationalism
      • An emotive identification with a nation and a political project to secure and independent nation-state for a nation.
  • 3. Approaches: Gellner
    • Ernest Gellner
      • Nations are a modern invention that fit the functional requirements of modern societies.
      • Nations have come into being through modernisation in general and industrialisation in particular.
      • Modernisation requires the development of a common culture and common language.
      • This requires mass education, centrally determined and homogonous which can impose a single language and single culture.
  • 4. Approaches: Anderson
    • Benedict Anderson
      • Concerned with the informal systems of literacy in the process of modernisation. His starting point is the idea of the nation as an imagined community.
        • It 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. (1983: 15)
      • It is imagined as a limited community in a sea of other such communities.
      • It imagined itself as a community of self-rule, as sovereign.
      • Shared literacy + shared language + shared culture = the conditions for the emergence of shared national identity.
      • It needs to be fought for and defended.
  • 5. Approaches: Smith
    • Anthony D. Smith
      • Starts with the concept of an ethnic community. In Europe these communities began to take shape in the Middle Ages.
      • Before nations we find elements of ethnic communities (the Welsh with a shared language: the Scots with their allegiance to a feudal state distinct from the English) which were the raw materials for the creation of the modern nation.
      • The difference between ethnic community and nation is the possession of:
        • An historic territory, or homeland;
        • Common myths and historical memories;
        • A common mass, public culture;
        • Common legal rights and duties for all members;
        • A common economy with territorial mobility for all members. (1986)
  • 6. Culture & Identity CULTURES IDENTITIES language beliefs/values signs/symbols art religion can be markers of them and us, origins of sameness and difference can create narratives and rituals that historically define identities can provide core sense of self and community
  • 7. What is Britain?
    • What changed the map and demanded the invention of Britain and Britishness was the 1707 Act of Union. Passed by Westminster it linked Scotland to England and Wales and announced there would be ‘one United Kingdom by the name of Great Britain’.
    • So, there was an embryonic British nation state but no British nation.
    • It was invented around five key pillars. Look at these pillars and try to unpack their importance.
  • 8. What is Britain?
    • Five pillars on which British national identity was invented.
    • Geography
    • Religion
    • War
    • Empire, land and commerce
    • Monarchy
  • 9. Sustaining the nation
    • What are the symbols used in the picture? List what you can see
    • What meanings are attached to what you see in the picture? What do you associate with your list in 1.
    • It is this photo, or one very like it which appears in newspapers in November. Could it have been constructed differently, with a different focus? What would be the implications for the meanings?
  • 10. Rituals and national identity
    • Collective memories sustain collective national identities.
    • National identities need to be upheld and reaffirmed at regular intervals.
    • Rituals play a crucial role.
    • But, what is ‘ritual’
  • 11. Rituals and national identity
    • Durkheim: The Elementary forms of the religious life (1915)
    • Despite differences in content there are few formal or functional differences between religious and national, secular ceremonies and rituals; their intentions, consequences and processes employed to attain the same results are similar.
    • Religious ceremonies reinforce collective values and reaffirm a sense of community. They move people from the mundane to the sacred.
  • 12. Rituals and national identity
    • The ‘old gods’ may be dead but the rituals could be used for other purposes by those seeking to forge national identity.
    • The national heroes become sacred; the national celebrations become religious.
    • The ‘British way of life’ begins to draw on the language of religious ritual.
  • 13. Rituals and national identity
    • Can you think of other examples of British national rituals or of the nation to which you belong?
    • To what extent are museum/gallery visits ‘rituals’ in the senses we have been exploring?
    • Which aspects of national identity are being celebrated or remembered? Are all members of the population being included? Do different groups treat such visits in different ways?