Signs of the Nation: Resisting Globalization?

Karner, Christian (2014) Signs of the Nation: Resisting Globalization? In: Znakowe wartosci kultury. WUW, pp. 157-174. ISBN UNSPECIFIED

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Signs of the Nation: Resisting Globalization?
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Abstract

A cross large parts of Europe, and beyond, we are currently witnessing a curious phenomenon of what may be most succinctly described as a semio-tic merging of hitherto arguably separate social domains: those of consumer capitalism, on one hand, and of various symbolisms of national identity, history and (self-)ascription on the other. Prominent manifestations of this include what has come to be called " nation branding " (Dinnie 2007). This is the phenomenon of nation-states now concerning themselves particularly with their economic image and employing brand consultants, to measure and rank the associations their " people, products, governments, culture, education, tourist attractions, and lifestyle " trigger internationally (http://www.simonanholt.com), to ascertain possible business benefi ts. In its unapologetically instrumentalist register with singularly economic undertones this is a marked departure from nation-states' well-known but much older preoccupation with their " world position " (Spillman 1997), or wider standing in the international order, that was formerly tied to geo-political importance, historical image and derived symbolic status. Yet more poignantly, we are now surrounded by national fl ags not just in their " traditional " spaces (e.g. fl ag posts, international borders, offi cial documents and buildings) but we see them being " worn " and " carried " as markers – of exactly what I will attempt to illuminate in this paper – on t-shirts, bags and consumer items of many other kinds. These, and this is my starting assumption, are evocations of the nation qualitatively different from, for example, an oath of allegiance being sworn or a national anthem being sung, as the latter are largely non-commodifi ed cultural-political practices. What, then, is this apparent blurring of the world of commodities and the domain of national symbolism all about, how might we read it, and which theoretical and methodological tools might help us in the process? In what follows, I discuss these questions by drawing on a series of discursive-visual " snapshots " from various European contexts, while focusing on the theoretical work demanded by this curious blurring of " the national " and " the bought and sold " .

Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
ID Code:39574
Deposited On:14 Jan 2020 10:27

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