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Eunike Piwoni

There seems to be a wide consensus in the academic community that the Holocaust is gradually losing significance in the German public. This development is clearly reflected in public elite discourse on national identity, where “Holocaust-centered memory” has ceased to be hegemonic. In the literature, several interpretations and reasons have been presented to explain this development. This paper contributes to the debate by arguing that the declining presence of Holocaust-centered arguments in intellectual elite discourse on national identity is due to a new consensual idea of German nationhood. Based on an event-oriented discourse analysis of more than 800 articles in opinion-leading newspapers, journals and magazines covering a period of more than twenty years, I argue that in national identity discourse, the Holocaust has never been—as is usually assumed—a blockade to displays of national identity in general, but only to a specific interpretation of the German nation as a Volk and as an exclusionist culture nation. By contrast, the idea of nationhood that dominates in the German public sphere today, the civic nation model, has never invoked Holocaust-centered counter-arguments—not even in the Historikerstreit in the 1980s. Thus, over the past three decades, the way national identity discourse has operated might have changed less than had often been assumed. The central argument of this paper is that the Holocaust has become a “latent”—but not a less consequential—argumentative resource.

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William Dodd

This article reports on contemporary debates in Germany on the extensive use of English in Germans' use of German. In particular, it focuses on the debate held at the University of Birmingham between Professor Jürgen Schiewe and Thomas Paulwitz on the question: “The influence of English on German today: Grounds for concern?” The rise of a nationalist discourse on language since the mid-1990s is traced with particular reference to the Verein Deutsche Sprache and the quarterly publication Deutsche Sprachwelt. The purist position represented by Paulwitz, editor of Deutsche Sprachwelt, and opposed by Schiewe, Professor of German Philology at the University of Greifswald, is found to represent a discourse on national identity that fails to engage with modern linguistic science.

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Teaching National Identity and Alterity

Nineteenth Century American Primary School Geography Textbooks

Bahar Gürsel

The swift and profound transformations in technology and industry that the United States began to experience in the late 1800s manifested themselves in school textbooks, which presented different patterns of race, ethnicity, and otherness. They also displayed concepts like national identity, exceptionalism, and the superiority of Euro-American civilization. This article aims to demonstrate, via an analysis of two textbooks, how world geography was taught to children in primary schools in nineteenth century America. It shows that the development of American identity coincided with the emergence of the realm of the “other,” that is, with the intensification of racial attitudes and prejudices, some of which were to persist well into the twentieth century.

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“We Are a Traveling People”

Tourism, Travel Journalism, and the Construction of a Modern National Identity in Sweden

Emilia Ljungberg

Tourism research has analyzed how modern nations are marketed to attract tourists from abroad and how domestic tourism has been used in the construction of national identities. Less attention has been given to the construction of outbound tourism as a central aspect of how a nation becomes modern. The following article studies Swedish travel journalism in the 1930s, when older forms of masculine colonial travel shared space with modern tourism trips. Even though few Swedes could travel abroad, tourism, both domestic and outbound, was vividly discussed as an established practice. To travel was practically a duty and something that would make the Swedes healthy, modern, and worldly. It would also foster proper national sentiments. The ideal of a warm but not chauvinistic celebration of one’s own country is a common Swedish position in relation to the world.

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A Fiction of the French Nation

The Émigré Novel, Nostalgia, and National Identity, 1797–1815

Mary Ashburn Miller

This article examines fictional representations of the emigration of the French Revolution. It focuses on the novels Eugénie et Mathilde, Les Petits émigrés, and Le Retour d’un émigré, which were published in France between 1797 and 1815 as émigrés were seeking to return to the nation they had fled. It argues that these novels should be interpreted as making claims about the ability of émigrés to reintegrate within the nation. The sentimental novels responded to two key anxieties about the émigrés’ return by demonstrating that émigrés had not been transformed into foreigners during their time abroad and that they were not seeking to reconstitute Old Regime France. These novelists redefined the émigré as an isolated and pitiable wanderer, and redefined France as a nation bound by common suffering and sentiment.

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Leah Rosen and Ruth Amir

This study is part of a wider research, which examines different strategies of exclusion and inclusion in public discourse and in the construction of collective memory in Israel. At the beginning of the 1930s, following the great economic crisis and the rise of National Socialism in Germany, a plan was conceived to send Jewish German youth to Palestine. Thus began the Project of Youth Aliyah, and with it the debate within the Zionist Movement and the Yishuv in Palestine on the proper station of immigrants in the emerging Israeli national identity. We characterize the discourse on the young refugees in the 1930s by highlighting two issues: first, the aims of the project for the emigration of Jewish German youth; and secondly, the national identity which should be inculcated in these young immigrants.

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Vincent Martigny

The 2007 Presidential election has been the occasion of a fierce debate between Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolène Royal on the issue of national identity. The victory of Nicolas Sarkozy has led to the creation of a Ministry of National Identity and Immigration, linking in a controversial way the management of newcomers and their acceptance of allegedly historical national "values." This article examines the debate during the campaign. It provides an analysis of the reasons why the definition and defense of national identity was discussed in the course of the election, and outlines the viewpoints of the two candidates on this issue. Finally, it argues that the temptation to fix politically the content of national identity is an ancient one in France. What has been presented as part of Nicolas Sarkozy's "rupture" with the past in this domain is in fact the latest development of a form of "state nationalism" that has been prevailing in France in recent decades.

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Anne Markey

This article explores the construction of boyhood in short fiction written by Patrick Pearse, the Irish nationalist and political activist executed for his leading role in the abortive Easter Rising of 1916. Pearse’s focus on the spiritual dimension of boyhood in his first collection of Irish-language stories, Íosagán agus Sgéalta Eile [Iosagan and Other Stories] (1907), simultaneously undermines and endorses imperialist and patriarchal assumptions about gender differentiation. In later stories published in An Mháthair agus sgéalta eile [The Mother and Other Stories] (1916), Pearse moved from advocacy of boyish spirituality to a more physical and militant representation of boyhood. This changing representation of Irish boyhood illustrates how Pearse’s increasing militarism reflected his ongoing construction of national identity.

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'Kilts Versus Breeches'

The Royal Visit, Tourism and Scottish National Memory

Eric G.E. Zuelow

George IV’s visit to Scotland in 1822 not only involved the royal entourage but also attracted thousands of ordinary people to Edinburgh. These early tourists encountered a largely invented spectacle of Scottish history and traditions that was designed to create a unified memory of the national past, despite the reality of a sharp division between Highlands and Lowlands. This article examines how the tourist gaze helped shape a new Scottish national memory and identity.

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Margaret McCarthy

German popular filmmakers who participated in the Denk ich an Deutschland series brought a range of conflicting impulses to their meditations on Germany, including the universalizing tendencies of popular culture, together with the personal and political strains often present in documentary films. With varying degrees of success, each director agitates national identity via an idiosyncratic selfhood, a process which in turn expands our notions of Germany beyond generic convention. The best of the five films discussed in this essay—directed by Doris Dörrie, Fatih Akin, Katja von Garnier, Sherry Hormann, and Klaus Lemke—feature their creators' struggle to box themselves out of a larger collective identity. By modeling their own existential Bildung, they chip away at an otherwise implacable German identity and provide a psychic service for Germans potentially more salutary than the way Hollywood films sustain American identity.