‘Oh motherland I pledge to thee…’: a study into nationalism, gender and the representation of an imagined family within national anthems

Oliver Lauenstein, Jeffrey Stevenson Murer, Margarete Boos, Stephen David Reicher

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7 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

In this paper we aim to join feminist critiques of nationalism, arguing that beyond understanding nations as imagined communities (Anderson 1983: 6), the symbolic construction of gender must also be considered in the formation of those communities. We argue that the metaphor of an ‘imagined family’ or ‘filial community’ is a more useful concept towards understanding the links between gender and nationhood in four ways as family relations: 1) provide a clear, hierarchical structure, 2) prescribe social roles and responsibilities, 3) are linked to positive affective connotations and 4) reify social phenomena as biologically determined. In order to empirically substantiate our claim, we will explore the prevalence and use of family metaphors in a key symbol of nationhood discourses of nationhood. Through a qualitative analysis of national anthems as ‘mnemonics of national identity’, we demonstrate the widespread presence of family metaphors, discussing how they reproduce ideas of family and gender. Finally, we discuss how the ‘imagined family’ as present in anthems and other forms of national representation could inform future studies of nationalism and national politics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-329
JournalNations and Nationalism
Volume21
Issue number2
Early online date24 Mar 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015

Keywords

  • Gender
  • Nationalism
  • Family
  • Metaphor
  • National anthems

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