Res Publica

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Issue 2, 1997 Expand all abstracts

Reimagining the Nation

Mass Media and Collective Identities in Europe

Authors Jan Servaes

    The interrelationschip of culture, nation and communication is one of the key themes in the study of collective identities and nationalism. In this opening article to this special issue this interrelationship is being assessed. The article aims to contribute to a discussion ofthe assumptions on which the above interrelationship is built. It is argued that nationhood is at the point of intersection with a plurality of discourses related to geography, history, culture, polities, ideology, ethnicity, religion, matriality, economics, and the social. The discourse of nationhood can best be understood in relation to boundedness, continuities and discontinuities, unnity and plurality, the authority of the past, and the imperative of the present. Contributions of a number of contemporary thinkers (Benedict Anderson, Wimal Dissanayake, Ernest Gellner, Sutart Hall, Eric Hosbawm, anthony Giddens, among others) are incorporated in this article in order to underline the complex and contested discursive terrain that nationhood undoubtedly is. It is concluded that various cultures also manifest different and fragmented identities.

Jan Servaes

    Historians and theoreticians of nationalism and nationalist movements are perplexed by the fact that so much of what nationalists believe is evidently not the case. One example of this concerns the ontological or metaphysical status of the nation: whether nations as a form of political community are in the very nature of things or whether they are rather a recent way of imagining the political community. I question the meaning terms such as 'natural', 'imagined' and 'objective'/'subjective' have when we are talking about the nation as the foundation of political legitimacy. Ido this by explaining what meaning those terms have in the philosophical reconstruction of interpretation and communication by the American philosopher Donald Davidson.

Tim Heysse

The Role of News Media in European Integration

A Framework of Analysis for Political Science

Authors Robin B. Hodess

    The pbenomenon of European integration has received a great deal ofattention from political scientists in the wake of the mid-1980s 'relaunch' ofthe European Union (EU). However, political science's theoretical consideration of West European integration has from the outset failed to include news media as a factor in EU politics. This oversight is linked to the general dismissal of the public and public debate as irrelevant to the integration project. Yet because media have several critical functions in politics - as an information-source, agendasetter, and legitimator - political science treatment of the EU now needs to account for the role of news media. Turning to concepts in normative media theory, the article proposes a framework within which to consider media and suggests empirical analysis of media coverage of the European Union. Such analysis would complement political science study of the democratisation and legitimation of the EU, while acknowledging public discourse as an element crucial to the future course of European integration.

Robin B. Hodess

La "Citoyenneté" au niveau de l'Union Européenne

prolégomènes d'une problématique

Authors Julian Thomas Hottinger

    Citizenship is a multiform concept that still needs to be cleared. This is necessary because various authors try to understand this concept so that they can define the future model of European citizenship. If there exist different forms of citizenship, one of the tasks of investigation is to determine reasons for these differences. This article redraws the history of this current thoughts in a comparative perspective to be able to deal with its meaning in the context of the European construction. This attitude obliges us to mark out the different contextual models white showing consideration for the real historical and political situations.

Julian Thomas Hottinger

Massmedia, Propaganda and Nationalism

Authors Marjan Malesic

    This article assesses the relationship between propaganda and nationalism as an ideology in the Serbian massmedia. Serious analysis of contemporary propaganda is a complex discipline, primarily because of the use of the mass media. The issue is further complicated by the fact that the introduction of ever new technologies results in new channels of public media, which demand specific and new methods of propaganda and manipulation. In the study of propaganda in Serbian media as it affects the war in Bosnia Herzegovina, the following elements were found to be of particular interest: propaganda and ideology (propaganda and nationalism, propaganda and religion, propaganda and reinterpretation of history); the use of language for propaganda purposes; the context of propaganda; propaganda organization and propagandists; the public; the level of source criticism; and the iconography.

Marjan Malesic

    Although the quasi-confederal character of Yugoslavia, especially after the introduction of its 1974 constitution did not encourage the development of a genuine Yugoslavian public sphere wherepublic debate could transcend ethnic and republic divisions, it nevertheless allowed the formation of what could be called Yugoslav cultural space, a space within which social and political actors (feminist, peace movements) forged their identities regardless of the ethnic or national diversity that characterised their membership. However, the existence of this 'space' had a limited impact in Yugoslav politics partly due to the breakdown of inter-republic communication and the fragmentation of the Yugoslavian mass media. This paper traces the process of disintegration of the Yugoslav cultural space and the emergence of national 'public spheres' in the republics and provinces of former Yugoslavia and attempts to assess the role of the mass media and cultural institutions in these developments by identifying the key strategies of representation employed in the process of the fragmentation and 'nationalisation' of the public sphere of former Yugoslavia.

Spyros A. Walgrave

Mass Communications and Nationalism

The Polities of Belonging and Exclusion in Contemporary Greece

Authors Roza Tsagarousianou

    This article focuses on the ways in which the prevalence of nationalist discourse in the communication process has affected political and cultural life in Greece after the end of the Cold War. It is argued that through the emergence of scientific nationalism, the enactment of public rituals, and the creation of moral panics based on media representations of ethnic/religious difference, the 'political' is simplified allowing no room for diversity and difference within the framework of national politics. The Greek mass media have been sustaining 'official' representations of 'Greece' as a nation under threat which have been crucial in the formation and maintenance of public attitudes regarding both ethno-religious minorities within Greece, and ethnic and religious groups in neighbouring countries and have undermined the formation and maintenance of public spaces (including the mass media) for representation and identity negotiation, independent from state institutions or the party system.

Roza Tsagarousianou

The Question of Identity in a Divided Media Landscape

The Case of Cyprus

Authors Gary Gumpert and Susan J. Drucker

    The military operations of 1974 in Cyprus led to the formation of two autonomous areas houding Turkish Cypriots in the north and the Greek Cypriots in the south. The island is divided by the "Green Line", patrolled by U.N. peace keeping forces. Movement is blocked and communication severed. There are multiple and conflicting Cypriot identities and feelings of nationalism ranging from pride in being Cypriots, to feelings of connection to Hellenic heritage, and cultural along with political and economic ties to Greece. A Turkish Cypriot identity linked to a distinct religious and linguistic background co-exists with Turkish settlers living in the independent north yet tied to Turkey. This article examines the division from a communication perspective taking into account language, religion, the visual landscape and the media landscape on each side of the "Green Line" along with interlocking media landscapes with Greece or Turkey in order to explore influences shaping collective identity and nationalism.

Gary Gumpert

Susan J. Drucker

Cultural Identity and Gender in Northern Ireland

A Space for Soaps?

Authors Mary Connolly

    As a fan of EastEnders the purpose of the author's dissertation was to examine current thinking on Gender and Cultural Identity in Northern Ireland through a literature review and some small scal/e research into the viewing of the soap opera. The author explored the issues with a group of eighteen Protestant and Catholic women. There were few significant differences in usage across age, class and cultural background. All of the women were capable of resistive readings as well as deep involvement and there was a spread of opinion about some of the more controversial issues dealt with. Attitudes to identity were more complex than often seems apparent in a simplistic reference to 'Two Communities'. The clearest division carne on the issue of the feasibility of a local soap opera. Middle class women rejected this idea whilst the working class women welcomed it as an opportunity to explore contentious issues through afamiliar medium which has a particular relevance to women.

Mary Connolly

The Flemish Identity

Nascent or Existent?

Authors Bart Kerremans

    The existence of a Flemish identity is a much debated issue in the Flanders. Some deny its existence on the basis of a rejection of national identities all together. Others perceive it as just one variant of a Western European identity. Still others consider it, not as a identity on its own but as part of the Belgian identity. Whatever the outcome, the discussion itself seems to be restricted to a small elite. The general public in the Flanders is not interested in the issue and doesn't seem to identify itself with a Flemish identity. A small empirical research indicates however, that part of the Flemish politicians and journalists use this identity as a perspective on politics and society. For that reason, the Flemish identity seems to be a condition which is quite similar to the one attributed by Gellner to national identities in the nineteenth century. Isn't it better therefore, to talk about a nascent instead of an existent Flemish identity?

Bart Kerremans

    The relationship between media, nationalism and identity is increasingly problematic, even in the most politically stable countries. In Canada, media policy has been an integral part of political strategies for preserving the coherence of the Canadian state, with respect to external pressures towards North American continental integration, and internal pressures towards fragmentation and, most recently, disintegration. The alternative project of political indepéndence for Quebec, which nearly achieved a majority in a referendum held in October 1995, represents a threat to the Canadian state that media policy has sought to contain. But media practices reflect the real tensions in Canadian society and can not be held to account for the more or less failed agendas of politicians. The article explores some aspects of the relationship between media and the complexities of national identity in the framework of a political culture where different visions of nationhood must inevitably coexist.

Marc Raboy