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The lenses of nationhood: an optical model of identity

Kaufmann, Eric P. (2008) The lenses of nationhood: an optical model of identity. Nations and Nationalism 14 (3), pp. 449-477. ISSN 1354-5078.

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This paper tries to make the case for a model of political identity based on an optical metaphor, which is especially applicable to nations. Human vision can be separated into sentient object, lenses and inbuilt mental ideas. This corresponds well to identity processes in which 'light' from a bounded territorial referent is refracted through various lenses (ideological, material, psychological) to focus in certain ways on particular symbolic resources like genealogy, history, culture or political institutions. Distinguishing between referent, lenses and resources helps us more precisely situate many hitherto disparate problems of national identity. These include the 'ethnic-civic' dilemma, the mystery of national identity before nationalism, and the relationship between local and national, and individual and collective, identities. The model also clarifies the place of universalist ideology, which currently fits poorly within the leading culturalist and materialist theories of nationalism.

Item Type: Article
Keyword(s) / Subject(s): civic nationalism, ethnic-civic, ethnic nationalism, local nationalism, loyalism, nationalism, nationalism and ideology, nationalism theory, theories of nationalism, symbolic resources
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Politics
Depositing User: Administrator
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2011 08:12
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:18

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