Although the symbolic and political importance of flags has often been mentioned by scholars of nationalism, there are few in-depth studies of the significance of flags for national identities.
This multi-disciplinary collection offers case studies and comparisons of flag history, uses and controversies.
This book brings together a dozen scholars, from varying national and disciplinary backgrounds, to offers a cluster of close readings of flags in their social contexts, mostly contemporary, but also historical. Case studies from Denmark, England, Northern Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and the United States explore ways in which flags are contested, stir up powerful emotions, can be commercialised in some contexts but not in others, serve as quasi-religious symbols, and as physical boundary markers; how the same flag can be solemn and formal in one setting, but stand for domestic bliss and informal cultural intimacy in another.
Table of Contents
1. Some Questions About Flags 2. The Origin of European National Flags 3. Rebel With(Out) a Cause?: The Contested Meanings of the Confederate Battle Flag in the American South 4. The Star-Spangled Banner and ‘Whiteness’ in American National Identity 5. Union Jacks and Union Jills 6. Pride and Possession, Display and Destruction 7. Between the National and the Civic: Flagging Peace In, or a Piece of, Northern Ireland? 8. Inarticulate Speech of the Heart: Nation, Flag and Emotion in Denmark 9. A Flag for all Occasions?: The Swedish Experience 10. Nationalism and Unionism in Nineteenth-Century Norwegian Flags 11. The Domestication of a National Symbol: The Private Use of Flags in Norway 12. Afterword
Thomas Hylland Eriksen is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo and Research Director of CULCOM (Cultural Complexity in the New Norway), 2004-2009.
Richard Jenkins, trained as an anthropologist, is Professor of Sociology at the University of Sheffield.