The Cool Culture Soul Machine: The Anthropology of Everyday Life
Lecture 3 – May 13, 2013
What is a “Nation”? Imagining Canada
Readings for todays lecture:
- "True Stories' of Canada: Tim Horton's and the Branding of National
Identity." Cultural Sociology 2(3): 369-384.
- "Settling the West: gentle Mounties and picturesque 'Indians'.” pp. 34-37, "Making
the Indians Ethnic," pp. 60-3, and "The Land as Unifier of Diversity." pp. 74-6.
In The House of Difference: Cultural Politics and National Identity in Canada, Toronto:
University of Toronto Press.
- Anderson, Benedict (1991). "Cultural Roots,' pp. 1-36, in Imagined Communities:
Reflections on the origins and spread of nationalism, revised edition. NY: Verson
- Assignment #1 is due next Monday May 20, 2013 (handed it in the drop box feature
Canadian Identity is difficult to define:
- Even though we produce and consume Canadianness in everyday life, Canadian
identity is difficult to define
- Identity is not natural and not a preexisting factor
- The meaning of identity is constantly constructed and negotiated
How/ In What Ways is Canadian Identity Constructed, and By Whom?
WHO?: Government/ Media
Corporations – Tim Horton’s (Individuals)
Next class – Tourism and Olympics
HOW?: Semiotic approach:
What signs and symbols are used (‘read’)?
Representational strategies used?
Interpret meaning of symbols (‘diagnose’)
o Narratives and discourse*
What is Canadian? - Signs and Symbols (‘texts’)
- Own experiences
o Snow (the weather), saying “eh”, being extra polite, hockey, maple syrup,
beaver (specific animals), Tim Horton’s, igloos
- CBC signoff (video watched in class)
o Maple leaf, mountains, nature landscape, the National Anthem, Niagara Falls,
- Molson Canadian beer commercial “The Rant” (Video Watched in Class)
o Beavers, fur traders, igloos, lumber jack, defining Canadian of what it is not
(comparing us to Americans and how we are not like them) , we are
Semiotics: The study of signs and symbols (‘texts’)
- “Reading” and “Diagnosing” Signs and Symbols
o Looking for the hidden meanings and how these symbols came to mean
what they mean today
- Arbitrariness – depends on Interpreter or individual The Cool Culture Soul Machine: The Anthropology of Everyday Life
Lecture 3 – May 13, 2013
o Example: why is a beaver particularly Canadian? Why are these mountains
representative of Canadians?
o Context and multiple meanings
- Hermeneutics: Science of interpretation
o Deeper meaning of texts to make connections
o How they acquire meaning and for what purpose? (Why are they using this
o EXAMPLE: How does Tim’s coffee acquire meaning as Canadian?
o How do government monuments and media represent Canadians?
In What Ways is Canadian Identity Constructed by Whom, and For What Purpose?
- Ambiguous and difficult to define what a Canadian is despite “traits” that we have
- Representational Strategy: Strategies of representation that privilege certain
o Example: Binary Opposition: Put two signs and symbols that are opposite
of the other together to convey a meaning (Ie. Men and Women)
o Representation: Social production of meaning through signs and symbols
o By using this strategy of binary opposition, it highlights certain meaning
such as NOT AMERICAN
EXAMPLE A: Government/ National Level
- Why construct Canadian identity?
o It is to unify diverse people across this mass landscape. We are all related