SOCB53 – Lecture 10 (Mar.19)
Race, Gender and Nation: Key Question
How are national identities connected to race?
What does it mean to say that national boundaries are made
through race and gender?
What is the peril of “pure identities”?
National identity is constituted through discourses,
institutions, and practices.
o Nation is a social construct, people do not just naturally
belong to an area.
Constitute an ideal citizen who is embodied (race, class,
o The idea of who is the citizen that belongs in the state.
The norm. Abstract ideals.
o Scholars find this problematic.
A story we tell ourselves about ourselves.
Nation as Imagined
o The nation is “imagined” through
Became a major way of linking diverse
geographical areas together.
o Basically he was arguing that a national identity isn’t
just about geography, it involves other non-political
Other scholars add that it is constituted through social
o National anthem
o Flags, monuments, sporting events.
o Stories of origin
o Work to build an emotional attachment to the land.
o Everyday people can participate in it, the media isn’t
just telling us what our nation is.
o Could call it “nation building”
Beavers, Polar Bears
Hockey “We’re nice, and multicultural”
Race, Ethnicity and Nation
“the concept of the nation relies on the imagining of a “fictive
ethnicity” because no modern nation possesses a given
“ethnic” basis, even when it arises out of a national
independence struggle” – Étienne Balibar
o Nation constituted through
Only do to the fact that other groups had to
be stomped out for the national language to
become the most common.
Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Nation – Interlocking Systems
Two of the ways that women constitute the nation/ethnicity:
o As participating centrally in the ideological reproduction
of the collectivity and as transmitters of its culture
Women are seen as the primary transmitters of
culture. On a daily basis educating the children
about customs, and values.
o As signifiers of ethnic/national differences- as a focus
and symbol in ideological discourses used in the
construction, reproduction, and transformation of
Women signify difference
The idea of the veiled woman signifies
Islam, etc. The category of women is used
to signify difference.
Perils of “Pure” Identities
“When national and ethnic identities are represented and
projected as pure, exposure to difference threatens them with
dilution and compromises their prizes puriies with the ever
present possibility of contamination. Crossing as mixture and
movement must be guarded against” – Paul Gilroy
o Example: The Jews in Germany during WWII
o Example: France feeling threatened from the growing
Muslim populations in “their” country.
o Example: Lynching in the USA. Happened because a
black man/boy looked at a white woman/girl. Seen as
posing a threat to the nation. I