National Matters investigates the role of material culture and materiality in defining and solidifying national identity in everyday practice. Examining a range of "things"—from art objects, clay fragments, and broken stones to clothing, food, and urban green space—the contributors to this volume explore the importance of matter in making the nation appear real, close, and important to its citizens. Symbols and material objects do not just reflect the national visions deployed by elites and consumed by the masses, but are themselves important factors in the production of national ideals.
Through a series of theoretically grounded and empirically rich case studies, this volume analyzes three key aspects of materiality and nationalism: the relationship between objects and national institutions, the way commonplace objects can shape a national ethos, and the everyday practices that allow individuals to enact and embody the nation. In giving attention to the agency of things and the capacities they afford or foreclose, these cases also challenge the methodological orthodoxies of cultural sociology. Taken together, these essays highlight how the "material turn" in the social sciences pushes conventional understanding of state and nation-making processes in new directions.
About the author
Geneviève Zubrzycki is Associate Professor of Sociology and Director of the Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia at the University of Michigan.
"Geneviève Zubrzycki has brought together an original collection of essays laden with fresh insights. Attending to the concrete experiences that sustain large-scale political identities, National Matters brings the new materiality to bear on nationalism in order to shed light on a subject of perennial significance."
—Webb Keane, University of Michigan
"National Matters brims with engrossing details, bringing together a lucid introduction and well-crafted essays into coherent conversation. Essential reading for cultural sociologists, scholars of nationalism, and students of material culture."
—Philip Gorski, Yale University