Carnivals of surplus emotion? Towards an understanding of the significance of Ecstatic Nationalism in a globalising world

Michael Skey

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49 Citations (Scopus)


This paper focuses on public events that celebrate the nation and how they may offer important insights into the study of wider discourses of (national) identity and belonging. Drawing on theories from both anthropology and media studies, it argues that these events should not be simply dismissed as sudden outbursts of patriotic emotion but instead can be used to extend Billig's work on Banal Nationalism (1995) by analysing in more detail the relationship between the banal and the ecstatic. This approach to the study of such events will also echo the calls of those who have argued that we need to move beyond the functionalism of a Durkheimian position (Couldry 2003). This conceptual framework will then be used to provide a definition of what I have tentatively labelled ‘ecstatic nationalism’. In the final section, Sassen's (2000) concept of the ‘strategic lens’ will be used to illustrate how such events may offer a significant opportunity for studying the complex subject of national identity during relatively bounded and liminal moments in an era that has been widely characterised as ‘globalising’ (Featherstone 1990).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-161
Number of pages19
JournalStudies in Ethnicity & Nationalism
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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