Cultural Mediation of National
History and Identity
a session at
International Conference in Tampere,
28th June - 1st July 1998
Session description: Nations are political constructions that
are created and maintained within specific socio-historical circumstances.
Our understanding of national identities are similarly developed and maintained.
This sense of national identity, of history and possible futures, is communicated
by cultural and institutional forces and integrated, individually and collectively,
into our sense of a common shared nationhood. Papers included in this session
will explore the content of national identities and political cultures,
and the processes by which those identities are communicated and contended.
Rachlin (Bradford College, USA), Andrey
Deriabin (Novosibirsk State University, Russia)
Allan Rachlin (Bradford College, USA), 'Getting Past' Vietnam:
The Rhetoric of the Gulf War as Regeneration
The paper considers the idea of the American myth of
regeneration through violence as a frame for understanding media and administration
presentation of the Gulf War. The marshaling of forces against Iraq and
the 'successful' campaign was repeatedly suggested as the opportunity for
the U.S. to finally 'get past' Vietnam. Vietnam would be understood as
an anomaly rather than part of a continual pattern of policy and priorities.
The successful war would enable Americans to reconstruct/resurrect/regenerate
an identity of moral integrity and military supremacy.
Andrey Deriabin (Novosibirsk State University, Russia), 'Russian Project':
Constructing National History and Identity
The paper addresses the mechanisms and effects of social
propaganda in the current Russian context. Through a semiological analysis
of television texts, it is demonstrated how, by a re-interpretation of
Russian history, new cultural and national identities are constructed.
Particularly, it is discussed how the First National TV-channel's series
'Russian Project' undo both Soviet "heroic past" discourse and "orwellian"
one of Perestroika period. Masking those periods of national history that
are "inconvenient to remember", 'Russian Project' and other propaganda
explore the myth of generations succession, and interpret the past as a
straight, unbroken line, consistent and progressive movement toward well-being.
It is argued that, on the one hand, what may result from this is "social
amnesia", and on the other, such a shaping of popular memory creates resources
of positive meaning of both past and present Russia, which the audience
uses to construct their national and cultural identities in the transitional
Mirjana Maleska (Institute for Sociological and Political Research, Skopje,
Macedonia), Cultural Mediation of National History: The Macedonian Case
Cultural mediation of history in the "Macedonian case"
(formation of a nation and national identity) is extremely interesting.
At the beginning of the 20 th century Macedonia as a region in the declining
Ottoman Empire was known as a "cag of powder" or an "apple of discord"
between the Balkan nations- Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria, which had aspirations
over Macedonia: The excuse was that Macedonia in national sense, is however,
a mixed "salad". Today, some scholars find that the situation at the end
of 20 century is different and politically much more stable, among other
things, because of one new fact: the existence of a Macedonian nation.
It is interesting to study the historical and political circumstances (the
balance of power) which contributed to the formation of the new nation.
As a matter of fact, behind that mixed "salad" was hidden a bloody process
through which, the Macedonians have built their nationl conscious and national
identity. Shared destiny, the creation of a state and the standardization
of a Macedonian language have played a crucial role in this process.
Johanna Valenius (University of Turku, Finland), As Told by the Maiden:
The Defining and Construction of Finnish Identity Through National Symbols
The topic of the paper is the construction and definition
of Finnish identity with national symbols in the early 1900's (flag, law
book, coat of arms) in five patriotic postcards from 1902-1906 featuring
Maiden Finland, the personification of Finnish nation and state. In this
paper it is maintained that national symbols are myths - i.e. narratives
by which a culture understands reality, as they were defined by Roland
Barthes. With their symbolism the five postcards tell three stories which
relate to Finnish national and political history. These three narratives
became national myths which manifested themselves in writing of history
that had become a national project in the 19th century Finland. Using history
Finnish nationalist idealogues were able to justify Finland and its people
culturally distinct, separate and finally an independent nation-state from
Sweden and Russia.
Mike Crang (University of Durham, UK), Nationalising Regional and Folk
Culture: the Homeland Movement in Dalarna, Sweden
This paper looks at the preserved cultural landscape
of Dalarna county in Sweden. It charts the emergence of a homeland movement,
dedicated to the preservation of a folk culture expressed in the landscape
and material culture. The emergence of this movement at the beginning of
this century is seen as bringing together heterogeneous spaces: advancing
modern and industrial Europe and a premodern folk culture in an era of
rapid transition for Sweden. The search for a specifically Swedish identity
led to the nationalisation of the Dalarna landscape as a symbol of Sweden.
This intersects with a localist homeland movement which preserve folk types
through open air museums. The paper questions how forms of interpretation
and belonging at different scales have intersected in this one preserved
landscape. And how it now figures in times of changing identities.
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