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Images of defeat in the construction of national identity.

Mock, Steven (2009) Images of defeat in the construction of national identity. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

Numerous cases can be shown of nations that elevate symbols they associate with their own defeat to the centre of their national mythology and construction of history. While this has been recognized and commented upon by scholars examining individual nations, it has yet to be examined in a comparative context as a phenomenon distinct to nationalism and the nation as a modern ideology and social construct. Yet such symbols are sufficiently common in national mythologies, and unusually so in that they can be shown to have been elevated in importance and altered in meaning over the process of nation building, that examination of this particular category of symbols has potential to offer unique insights into "the nation" as a general concept. Nations are modem constructs, yet most identify in continuity with ancient predecessors. The elevation of symbols of defeat serves to negotiate this balance by substantiating the nation's sense of continuity with the traditional ethnic culture on which it relies for its symbolic content, while at the same time rationalising the radical social transformation necessary in order for the community to assert claims in the modern political context. Under certain conditions, such myths can even serve as the very signifiers which give the system its structure and meaning and therefore the effective foundation myths of the nation. As a result, an added desperation, difficult for outsiders to understand, often characterises conflicts over symbols associated with these myths.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2735

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