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Lecture 5

CMNS 210 Lecture Notes - Lecture 5: Merriam-Webster, Canadian Nationalism, Canadian Identity

Course Code
CMNS 210
Stuart Poyntz

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Katharina Voss / CMNS 210 / Stuart Poyntz / D101/ Pietro Sammarco/ 7 October 2013
Maurice Charland: ‘Technological Nationalism’
In Robinson, D. (2009). Communication History in Canada (pp. 50-61). Don Mills, ON:
Oxford University Press Canada from Charland, M. (1986) ‘Technological
Nationalism’, Canadian Journal of Political and Social Theory 10, 1-2 (pp. 196-220).
Charland explores technological nationalism, the idea that technology is able to create a
nation by enhancing communication. He argues that the Canadian state can only legitimate
its own existence by constituting a Canadian nation. As Canada is divided into regions
distant from each other, space-binding technologies are required to bring such a nation into
being. Charland establishes three contradictions of technological nationalism. Aim: consider
appropriateness of technological nationalism in face of Canadian exingencies
Technological nationalism is the idea that technology is able to create a nation by
enhancing communication
Canada and its ethos is constituted by technology
Canada exists by virtue of space-binding technologies, such as the railway and radio
Canadian identity is not tied to its people but to their mediation through technology
Rhetoric and Ideological Discourse
Rhetoric: discourse/prominent ideas around a subject; necessary material condition of
human social existence
Rhetoric of technological nationalism: dominant discourse of official ideology of nation
building through state supported broadcasting; also dominant discourse of Canadian
Technological nationalism promises a liberal state in which technology is a neutral
medium for the development of a polis
o Merriam Webster polis: a Greek city-state; broadly: a state or society especially
when characterized by a sense of community
Bankrupt idea: communication itself is the only substance for the polis
Canada is defenseless against seduction of American cultural industry and technological
Canada is an ‘absent nation’
Canada, Technology, and Technological Rhetoric
Canada is a technological state: its existence is predicated upon transportation and
communication technology.
The idea of Canada depends on the rhetoric about technology
Because of its geographical enormity and complexity, Canada can only exist with space-
binding technologies that enable the movement of goods and information.
The Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR) established in 1881 linked eastern and western
Canada, enhanced trade and inter-regional communication, and thus permitted the
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