Anthropology | Performing Nationalism
E677 | 25824 | 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 or created out of symbolic resources to produce
unity, loyalty and patriotism. These symbolic and artistic forms
constitute a powerful force in the phenomenon we label "nationalism."

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.    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: religious movements that oppose a
dominant force, a Latin American indigenous dance that represents the
nation; Mexican-American Charreada; a precolonial African state based
on law). Students will also be expected to write a written response
for each class session. A few guest speakers who are working on this
topic will be included as well.

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 this process in
relation to larger sociopolitical contexts.