Possessing the Past: The use and abuse of archaeology in building nation-states
2013 05 30

By Dr Peter Buxton | HeritageDaily

Historical artefacts can be used as a powerful tool to reinforce group identity and forge a nation-state, but their use can have adverse consequences such as the oppression of minorities.

A diagram is used to summarise the complex identity relationships between states and nations. The power of historical artefacts derives from the duality of their nature; they are both a concrete proof of an historical fact and the basis for an abstract construction of meaning. Three case studies are used to provide examples of the use and abuse of archaeology.


The Ratification of the Treaty of Munster, Gerard Ter Borch (1648) : Wiki Commons, part of the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the war between France, Sweden and the Holy Roman Empire

From the earliest pre-historic times to the present day man has formed groups which transcend family as a way of organising and regulating society. These groupings, whether Iron Age tribes, Athenian city states or modern nations, have been bound together by many factors such as territory, language and culture. Since the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia the nation state has become the main entity through which international relations are organised; even with the development of supra-national bodies, and the changes wrought by globalisation, the nation state has remained pre-eminent.

The decline of the nation-state as the foremost way in which international relations are conceived has been much debated but, like Mark Twain, rumours of its death appear to have been exaggerated. Whether it is in Scotland or the Balkans, national groups, using the rhetoric of nationalism, seek independent nation status as the pinnacle of self determination; alternatives, such as greater autonomy within the existing state, are seen as a lesser status.

The terms ‘nation’, ‘state’, and ‘nation-state’ are often regarded as synonyms; this is incorrect and, whilst recognising their limitations and contested nature, for the purposes of this paper the definitions proposed by Smith will be used. A ‘state’ is a public institution exercising a monopoly of coercion and extraction within a given territory; a ‘nation’ is a cultural and political bond uniting a single political community. A ‘nation-state’ exists where there is complete congruence between the territory of the ‘state’ and that of the ‘nation’.

Using case studies of National Socialist Germany, Israel, and Bosnia, which show different aspects of how archaeology is used, this paper will explore the importance of associating individual identity with a nation.

[...]

Read the full article at: heritagedaily.com



Related Articles
Controlling People By Controlling History
African Coins Found in Australia Thought to Be 1,000 Years Old: May Rewrite History
History of Geology - Down the Rabbit Hole
From Hiroshima To Gaza: The Demon of History And The Divinity of "The Others"


Latest News from our Front Page

Who is Gary Hirshberg? And why is he a leader in the anti-GMO movement?
2014 11 20
“Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev recently announced that Russia will no longer import GMO products, stating that the nation has enough space, and enough resources to produce organic food. ‘If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat them. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food.’” (Collective Evolution, April ...
Rural school is denied top grade by Ofsted inspectors because it’s ’too English’ and not diverse enough
2014 11 20
A high-performing primary school has missed out on Ofsted’s top grade after being judged too English. Pupils at the rural primary lacked ‘first-hand experience of the diverse make-up of modern British society’, declared the watchdog. However, around 97 per cent of the population in the town to which the school belongs are white. Ofsted refused it an ‘outstanding’ rating and graded it ...
Another banker Dead: Citigroup executive, 42, found dead in the bathtub of his Manhattan apartment with his throat cut
2014 11 20
Comment: The strange banked deaths continues. The global head of Citigroup’s environmental and social risk management was found dead in his New York apartment on Tuesday with a laceration to the throat. The body of Shawn D. Miller, 42, was discovered in the bathtub of his condo in Manhattan’s Financial District. There was no knife or obvious weapon found at the scene, leading ...
Six Hours of Increased Memory By Adding This to Breakfast
2014 11 19
Researchers from Monash Asia Institute at Monash University found that you can spice up your memory and help with diabetic and prediabetic conditions with a tiny amount of a powdery substance that might be in your cabinet as we speak. This substance can be added to scrambled egg recipes... Can make porridge and oatmeal pop when something sweet is added. Mixed into ...
5 Killed at Jerusalem Synagogue
2014 11 19
Comment: Wonder if this has anything to do with the continuation of the ethnic cleansing in Gaza this summer, or are they blind to their own actions and once again think that this comes out of the blue? Report from RT The gruesome slaying of five Israelis at a synagogue early Tuesday left many residents of this city fearing that the worst ...
More News »