Nation and Commemoration - Lyn Spillman Nation and Commemoration
Creating National Identities in the United States and Australia
Lyn Spillman, University of Notre Dame

"This book adds to our understanding by drawing on the historical experiences of 'settler' countries." "...Spillman offers us an understanding of differences and similarities in Australian and U.S. national identities, and of national identity formation in general.-- Social Forces

"Nation and Commemoration is a towering achievement...because it makes sense of massive amounts of information about national identity and collective memory without simplistically reducing the manipulative imagination of cultural elites. Spillman's book will be a standard reference. No other book documents so thoroughly and so persuasively the process by which nations come to know themselves." -- American Journal of Sociology

What do people think when they imagine themselves as part of a nation? What are the experiences and symbols that define their nationhood? Nation and Commemoration examines how two similar sets of people, Australians and Americans, have created and recreated their different national identities. Lyn Spillman compares American and Australian national identities at the end of the nineteenth century and again at the end of the twentieth.

Cambridge Cultural Social Studies
1997/264 pp.

"Lyn Spillman's Nation and Commemoration is pathbreaking work. Meticulously comparing national identity celebrations across two centuries, Spillman shows how the content and meaning of identities change. Central elites mobilize core symbols of the nation, but these meanings are contested. Fear of such contestation in turn shapes what nations seek to commemorate. In this fascinating story, two similar nations end up with divergent images of national identity. Spillman shows convincingly how different locations in a discursive field and the varying ways elites connect to peripheries shift ways nations construct their identities."-- Ann Swidler, UC, Berkeley

1. Comparing national identities
2. "Everyone admits that commemorations have their uses": producing national identities in celebration
3. "Our country by the world received...": Centennial celebrations in 1876 and 1888
4. "To remind ourselves that we are a united nation": bicentennial celebrations in 1976 and 1988
5. Making nations meaningful in the United States and Australia

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