Anthropology | Performing Nationalism
E677 | 23967 | 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/tv, etc.
Equally common, the nation state utilizes the same resources from its
indigenous cultures to produce unity, loyalty and patriotism. This
course deals with the process that accomplishes these purposes,
whether domination or resistance. While related to the distribution
and flow of power at any time, these processes are especially crucial
in periods of transition, war, or political upheaval.
After several sessions devoted to discussion of theories of
nationalism we will focus on ethnographic studies in different parts
of the world, emphasizing the processes by which nationalism operates,
the forms through which it communicates,(such as popular culture,
religion, war, spectacle), the changes forms undergo in order to
express the desired goals, and processes of resistance. This section
will include studies from African cultures (pre-colonial as well as
modern), the United States, and Europe. Not only will we consider
nationalism of the dominant cultural group, associated with or
supported by the state, but we will view cultural nationalism
performed by minority groups. The course will conclude with a
consideration of the relationship between the national and
transnational or global forces.
Students may choose a symbolic form from the present or the past as
their subject and will write two related papers (one short and one
long) on a specific ethnographic site and specific symbolic form that
expresses nationalism, national identity, transnationalism or specific
elements of this process. (Examples: a dramatic form in Asia that
adapts to religious and political change; a Latin American indigenous
dance that represents the nation; Mexican-American Charreada; a
precolonial African state based on law).
The latter portion of the class will be devoted to student presentations.
Readings will include theoretical studies of nationalism and
modernity,(Imagined Communities, and National Identities for example)
as well as some historical readings that contextualize particular
movements of nationalism.