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CMNS 210 (13)
Lecture 5

W5 Reading Notes on Charland (2009)

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Simon Fraser University
CMNS 210
Stuart Poyntz

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). Summary 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 Introduction  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 nationalism  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 experience  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 Katharina Voss / CMNS 210 / Stuart Poyntz / D101/ Pietro Sammarco/ 7 October 2013 development of a Canadian state and moreover a nation, a people that would legitimize the state’s existence. o Increased immigration into West o Established military presence in the West o Eastern Canadians don’t have to travel through US to get to BC o Canadians united in patriotic sentiment  CPR permitted developing a mythic rhetoric of national origin necessary to develop ‘Canadian nationhood’: myth of railroad places technology at centre of Canadian mind  CPR demonstrates a political will to statehood and the determination not to be ‘absorbed’ by the United States.  More than transcontinental transportation, Canada required a rhetoric, which ideologically established those in Canada as Canadians.  CPR is only a form of economic communication – it does not bring about a common Canadian culture  Another technological instrument was needed to bring about a Canadian public and common culture. Technological Nationalism in the Broadcasting Era  Broadcasting technology, particularly the radio, allowed for a new articulation of the rhetoric of technological nationalism  First national radio was established by railway: first broadcast to trains, later to network stations in major cities  Radio presented those who live in Anglophone Canada with an image of Canada  Radio transcended the isolating effects of distance, regionalism and cultural diversity and reduced Canada to a small community  Broadcasting as a means to create a Canada with sufficient commonality to justify its political union  Canadians became aware of each other and their already constituted values and identity. The Development of a Broadcasting Policy of Technological Nationalism  The first broadcasting policy only emerged a decade after the first radio station was licensed in 1919.  The 1932 Broadcasting Act called for exclusive government control of broadcasting and the nationalization of privately owned stations.  A national identity was to emerge from broadcasting matter of
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