Strategies of remembrance: the public negotiation of ntional identity in Germany and Canada
Bruner, Michael Lane, 1958-
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Nationalism is perhaps the most potent contemporary political force in the world, and yet the discursive means by which collective identity is created, maintained, and transformed are under-explored. This study comparatively analyzes rhetorical dimensions of national identity construction in Germany and Canada to better understand the discursive processes at work in the public negotiation of national identity. Through rhetorical analyses of dramatically rejected discourse, the study begins development of a theory designed to identify the narrative absences (strategies of remembrance) that accompany articulations of collective national identity. As ideology critique, this study's principal goal is to investigate relationships among nationalism, the politics of memory, and radical democracy. The rhetorical analyses of German and Canadian political discourse are accompanied by chapters dealing with the history of nationalism and nationalist ideology in both settings. Specifically, the West German pre-unification public speeches of Richard von Weizsacker, Helmut Kohl, and Philipp Jenninger are analyzed, and the public discourse of Quebecois secessionists Jacques Parizeau and Lucien Bouchard related to the 1995 secessionist referendum is explored. Chapter one draws upon critical theorists and contemporary political philosophers to establish the theoretical basis for the investigation, and chapter two outlines a critical theory of national identity. My argument is that collective identities are negotiated between advocates and publics through a never ending, agonistic dynamic, and that the notion of "limit work" can be fruitfully applied to the analysis of dramatically rejected public discourse in order to isolate what I refer to as "strategies of remembrance." Chapters three through six argue that pre-unification West German national identity depended upon the strategic absence of discourse about the causes and responsibility for, and the lasting socio-political influences of National Socialism, while Quebecois national identity during the 1995 secessionist referendum depended upon the strategic absence of discourse related to neo-racist and economic issues. The study concludes with a discussion of the ramifications of various types of strategic narrative absences on democratic processes.
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