Folklore | Performing Nationalism
F755 | 28040 | B. Stoeltje
Above class meets with AMST-G751 and ANTH-E677.
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
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
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.