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National ceremonies: the pursuit of authenticity

[journal article]

Uzelac, Gordana

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Abstract This article asks what, if any, impact national ceremonies have on the formation of national identities. Why are some ceremonies perceived as national and persistent through time, while others fail to achieve that status? It argues that national ceremonies can only be examined as specific types of situations – performances, rather than rituals – characterized by the relationship between performers and their audiences. Following Jeffery Alexander's cultural pragmatics theory, national ceremonies are seen as successful only when a performance is perceived as authentic. A ceremony's authenticity is, at best, a quality of experience among its audience. Only when the audience is transformed into willing participants through a performance's mise-en-scène can a national ceremony be seen as a ritual-like performance. The paper will conclude that the efficacy of these performances is temporary, and that even when a performance succeeds in creating a community of shared experience, that community dissolves with the end of the performance.
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Free Keywords national ceremonies; authenticity; rituals; performances; nationalism; national identity
Document language English
Publication Year 2010
Page/Pages 30 p.
Journal Ethnic and Racial Studies (2010)
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)