Jasper Dag Tjaden completed a Master of Science in European Studies at the London School of Economics and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. at University College London.
The (Re-)Construction of ‘National Identity’ through Selective Memory and Mass Ritual Discourse: The Chilean Centenary, 1910
Article first published online: 10 APR 2012
Journal compilation © 2012 Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism
Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism
Special Issue: Forging the Nation: Performance and Ritual in the (Re)production of Nation
Volume 12, Issue 1, pages 45–63, April 2012
How to Cite
Tjaden, J. D. (2012), The (Re-)Construction of ‘National Identity’ through Selective Memory and Mass Ritual Discourse: The Chilean Centenary, 1910. Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, 12: 45–63. doi: 10.1111/j.1754-9469.2012.01156.x
- Issue published online: 10 APR 2012
- Article first published online: 10 APR 2012
Social constructivist theories regard the nation as ‘imagined’ (Anderson), ‘invented’ (Hobsbawm and Ranger), and ‘narrated’ (Bhabha). National narratives use mass rituals, performances, and selective national history to reinvigorate collective identity. This article examines the 1910 centennial festivities in Chile as a collective and discursive quest for national identity in a changing society longing for stability. The article uses a discourse analysis approach to study a series of Chilean national history abstracts and coverage of the centennial festivities as presented in Zig-Zag, the most relevant political magazine at the time. The study finds that selective memory and mass ritual discourse are a constitutive part of national identity. Through the process of selective memory, the sources depict Chilean history as a series of linear, coherent, and meaningful events to foster collective identification with the nation. The images of mass ritual discourse of the centennial celebrations reinforce common national characteristics and confidence in the nation. Mass performances provide emotional self-affirmation and an endowment of meaning for individuals within their national group as they restage current national membership with reference to a common past. The study identifies themes of national representation along which the nation is narrated, and suggests that this typology can be generalised beyond the case of Chile. In doing so, this article underscores the need for further research on the concept of discursive national identity formation and its relevance in contemporary politics.