Folklore | Performing Nationalism
F740 | 2441 | Stoeltje


Around the globe social and cultural groups express resistance to
domination through the performance of symbolic forms such as ritual,
religion, song, narrative, the novel, language, food, film.  Equally
common, the nation utilizes the same resources from its indigenous
cultures to produce unity, loyalty and patriotism.  This course deals
with the process that accomplishes these purposes.  While related to
the distribution and flow of power at any time, these processes are
especially crucial in periods of transition or political upheaval.
After several sessions devoted to discussion of theories of
nationalism and some ethnographic examples, the course will
concentrate on nationalism in the United States and the symbolic
forms  which have and continue to serve as a vehicle for the
expression of nationalism in this country.  Not only will we consider
nationalism of the dominant cultural group, associated with or
supported by the state, but we will view the cultural nationalism
performed by ethnic or minority groups, such as Black Nationalism,
American Indian groups, and Mexican-American organizations, and we
will also examine the ritual wearing of costumes in order to adopt an
identity and establish a unity.
Students may choose a symbolic form from the present or the past as
their subject and will write two related papers on this process (one
short and one long).  The latter portion of the class will be devoted
to student presentations.
Readings will include theoretical and ethnographic studies of
nationalism, as well as some historical readings necessary to
understand the context of particular political actions.