domenica 5 agosto 2012

Nation's practices: invented traditions, commercial nationalism and spontaneous consent

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A Nation can be defined as a group of people that feel themselves bound to a specific territory, part of an historical continuum often with an unidentified origin, but in the case of Canada well defined with the creation of the Confederation in 1867, with a long future. This group also which share some common characteristics, values beliefs, practices and symbols in which they believe and identify with. In his article “invented Tradition” Hobsman in define “invented tradition” as a series of repeated practices, which objective is to help the widespread of specific values or ideas, as well as patterns of behavior or power relations; these are adopted and accepted more or less consciously by the members of a specific group. (Hobsman, 1983) Hobsman's concept can be linked with Gramsci's definition of Hegemony which is the adoption of certain values and ideas by the mass when these values and ideas are proper of the leading or upper class, an important characteristic of hegemony is the fact that these values and ideas are not adopted thought the use of force but people adopt them autonomously or in other cases through coercion. (Gramsci, 190x). Invented traditions are thus utilized to widespread the ideas and values of the nation and are also integral part of the nation building process. An example of how important invented traditions are can be find in the words of Eva Mackey when dealing with the flag debate, focusing on symbols which can be identified as a sub set of invented traditions, she state that “symbols were therefore important strategic tools in the [pan-]Canadian nationalist cause. The manipulation of symbols of nationhood was essential for the survival of the project of nation-building in Canada” (Makey,2002,56).
In this Photographic essay I am going to analyze how Invented tradition, the Use of Symbols and the concept of Hegemony both by looking at how values are widespread and by looking at the spontaneous acceptance of people are manifest in the Canadian society. The format of this essay is going to be a thematic essay and it is going to be divided in three parts, the first part will be called Invented Tradition, the second part Commercial Nationalism and finally the third part is Spontaneous consent, since i think that these three dimension are entangled together and that the relation between these dimension can be presented as a flux there are going to be also three conjunction links that are made by pictures that can be placed in two categories.

Part I
Invented Traditions

(Photo 1, Taken: ‎26 ‎August ‎2010, ‏‎Place: Parliament Hill, Ottawa)

Mosaika is the story of Canada – our story. A powerful narrative set against the spectacular backdrop of Parliament Hill, Mosaika takes the audience on an unforgettable journey of sound and light, as we explore Canada’s physical, historical and cultural landscapes”. (Mosaika Website, 2010).
Mosaika, is an example of invented tradition, in fact this show is performed all the days of the summers from July until September and it is free, in this way it can be seen by a large number of people . It last half an hour and it show different aspect of Canadian nationalism. It is evident that the scope of this show if to spread and to make propaganda of series of values and ideas related to Canada.
The Changing of the Guard

(Photo 2, Taken ‎26 ‎August ‎2010, Place: Parliament Hill, Ottawa)

A Canadian tradition at its most colourful! The Ceremonial Guard of the Canadian Forces brings stirring military drill and music to Parliament Hill”. (Canadian Parliament Website,2010)

The Changing of the Guard can be considered another invented tradition, and as we can see above it is defined as a tradition in the site of the Canadian Parliament, which is another national symbols.
Military has often been a part of nationalistic practises, and myth. As for Mosaika this parade is perfomed during the summer period, starting from June until August it is free and it can be seen by a large number of people. Moreover the parade is more interactive, people can follow the parade all the way long to where its end in front of the World War II monument, where a little ceremony in honour of the soldiers that has lost their life in several wars take place. In this occasion people are pushed to identify themselves with the army and to be sympathetic for the soldiers that has fought for Canada.

Oh Canada

(Photo 3, Taken: ‎8 ‎October ‎2010, Place: Montreal Central Station)

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee” (National Anthem of Canada, in Canadian Heritage Website, 2010)

This picture has been taken at the Montreal Central Station. This station has at the for cardinal point an engrave of the Canadian National Anthem. The place choose for the engraving the national incision is symbolic in fact begin that of a train station it suggest the idea of unity and linkage within Canadians of the whole country.

The Maple Leaf Flag

(Photo 4, Taken: ‎29 October 2010, Place: Toronto)

National Flag is “a nation's premier graphic symbol second in importance only to the nation's premier linguistic symbol-its name” (Fraser, 1990-1, in Mackey, 2002 , 55)

The Maple leaf flag as national flag of Canada has been established in 1965, this was a response to the Quebec quite revolution and an attempt to create a symbol able to unify Canada as a whole. Eva Mackey in his book “Managing the house of difference” describe how the discussion on the adoption of a new flag has blocked Canada's parliament for six mounts. This symbol is placed in several and disparate places as if it has to keep remember people they are Canadian.

Conjunction Link I
(Invented Traditions\Commercial Nationalism)
The Museum of Civilization

(Photo 5, Taken: 18 September 2010, Place: Gatineau)

The history of the Canadian Museum of Civilization began in 1856 with the establishment of a museum by the geological survey of Canada” (Museum of Civilization website, 2010)

The museum of Civilization represent the first intermediate link, in fact it can be seen as both an invented tradition and as a commercial nationalism.
It is an invented tradition because it is portrait as a national symbol, and as we can read in its web site its origins are placed far in the past, moreover as the ceremonies, also this museum is used for mass education.It is a Commercial Nationalism because it is non only a public institution but it make some profit by using national symbols.

Part II
Commercial Nationalism
I am Canadi a/e n
(Photo 6,Taken: 8October 2010, Place: Montreal) (Photo7,Taken: 8 October 2010, Place: Montreal)

One of the biggest dilemmas with nationalism is that different definition of the boundaries of national group may coexist within the same country” (Hills,2001,276)

These two pictures show the entrance of two shops in Montreal, as we can see two flags representing different nationality are placed one next to each other, this can represent the coexistence of a double sense of nationality in the owner. As it is know in Quebec it is present a strong sense of local nationalism and in some cases an opposition to the Canadian nationalism. This is why I found these two picture interesting, because the fact that these flags are placed at the entrance of the shop may also be a device to invite and appeal costumers both that identify themselves as Quebecois or as Chinese in the first case or as Quebecois or Canadian in the second case.


(Photo 8, Taken: 17 October 2010, Place: Bank Street, Ottawa)

Canadians have nothing to gain and a lot to lose such as Being able to tell our own stories, listen to our own music and get our own point of view on the world from the plan to allow more foreign ownership of our telecommunications and media sectors ”. (CEP website, 2010)

The Media sector is a strategic sector for the widespread of National Values and Ideas, moreover it is also a strategic sector for the commercial area. This picture represent the advertisement for a campaign by the Communication Energy and Paper-workers Union against the plan of augment foreign investment in the media and communication sector. This can be seen as a commercial nationalism protecting measure.


(Photo 9, Taken: 22 November 2010, Place: Chapters South Keys, Ottawa) (Photo 10, taken: 17 October 2010, Bank Street, Ottawa)

There is no doubt that an important piece of in the Canadian identity puzzle comes from both integration and resistance to the American Presence”. (Hiller, 2001,268)

The rivalry and the need to differentiate from the United states is a fundamental feature of the Canadian identity and Canadian Nationalism. This is so rooted that there is the need to Canadianize American symbols such as the McDonald's M by attaching a maple leaf in it, or by writing and selling books which explain why Canadian as SO much better than Americans.

The Maple Leaf Forever

(Photo 11, Taken 14 November 2010, Rideau Center, Ottawa)

The Maple Leaf / Our Emblem Dear, / The Maple Leaf Forever / God save our Queen and heaven bless, / The Maple Leaf Forever ” (The Maple Leaf Forever Chorus by Alexander Muir, in Canadian heritage website,2010)

Rideau Centre, one of the biggest commercial centre of Canada, is disseminate by maple leafs, as to remember people that they are walking on Canadian soil, moreover this is an example of commercial nationalism because by seeing maple leaf Canadian consumer could be lead to think that it is helping Canadian economy with his shopping.

Conjunction link I
(Commercial Nationalism/Spontaneous Consent)
Hockey Country

(Photo 12, Taken: 24 November 2010, Scotia Bank place, Ottawa)

In the late 1990's, the Canadian government gave the Montreal Canadiens hockey team $ 500 000 to display the Canada logo at centre ice in their arena ans also gave $ 370 000 to the NHL Ottawa Senators for a Similar purpose. […] The government thus became an advertiser of a product, just like corporation promote other consumer commodities”. ( Hiller, 2001, 286)

Hockey is our game, but really it is much more than just a game, its a passion that bring us all together, [...] it's in hour hearts ”. (Sidney Crosby in Tim Horton's commercial, 2010)

Hockey is both an example of Commercial Nationalism and of Spontaneous Consent, in fact this sport is perceived as another fundamental symbol Canadian Identity and Nationalism, but at the same time it is used for economic profit.
Part III
Spontaneous Consent
Transmitting tradition
(Photo 13, Taken: 11 November 2010, Remembrance Day, Carleton University, Ottawa)

Thousand , if not millions of schoolchildren like myself went on school-sponsored visit to Expo '67, buses packed with children from all areas of Canada converging to Montreal. These trips can ne seen as 'pilgrimage of patriotism', that combine the ritual of participation in patriotic performance, with the pedagogical practice of learning about the nation, its relationship with the world, and one's role as a citizens and national subject.” (Mackey,2002,59)

Spontaneous consent happen when people intentionally embrace certain values and certain pattern of behaviour, before this adoption Gramsi identify also the coercion dimension, this dimension is represented by this picture. In fact this picture, taken during the Remonstrance Day we have an example of how children are educated to adopt these values and behavioural patterns. As Eva Mackey note children are educated by participation to this patriotic celebration.

Adopting Traditions

(Photo 14, Taken: 11 November 2010,Remembrance Day, Carleton University, Ottawa)

Celebrations also offered an opportunity for mass education of Canadian Citizen, drawing on a longer history of the role of public spectacle”. (Mackey, 2002, 59)

Once they have absorbed the values and the way in which they have to behave people repeat what they have learned, this is an example of spontaneous consents because they are not oblige (if not by society itself) to participate to events such as the remembrance day, but they participate and pay respect for the tradition.

Adapting Traditions

(Photo 15, Taken: 29 August 2010, Elgin street, Ottawa) (Photo 12, Taken: 11 November 2010, Remembrance Day, Carleton University, Ottawa)

While they often struggle with their national identity at home, when they travel abroad, Canadians proudly Carry the Maple leaf (usually in miniature) on their backpacks as they move about in countries all over the world” (Hiller,2001,273)

A final example of spontaneous consent is when people use and adapt national symbols to their needs. In these two picture we have an example of that. The left picture was taken during the Ottawa's gay pride and as we can see the RCMP, another fundamental national symbol are presented as represented another identity the one of being gay. In the right picture we see how the Canadian flag was used to personalize the poppy flower during the remembrance day.

Reference List