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T.H. Eriksen interview and discussion on national cultures

August 28, 2008

Lorenz has an interesting blog post on his interview with the anthropologist Thomas H. Eriksen, who among other things is the research director of the interdisciplinary research programme Culcom – Cultural Complexity in the New Norway. The following quote prompted me to post on the always slippery subject of national culture:

– What we are trying to do is shift the analytical gaze in a direction where the nation-state and the ethnic group are not viewed as the most important unit.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 31, 2008 6:32 pm

    I strongly agree with the point you were making. I did my dissertation fieldwork in Tanzania in the 1980’s. Almost all the changes and challenges faced by the rural villagers I interviewed– kinship metaphors, land ownership debates, gender struggles–were “framed” by reference to the construction of the “new and modern” independent nation-state of Tanzania. Having spent, at that point, some 20 years engaged in a dialogue of the construction of a nation-state under Julius Nyerere, these were their understandings of lived experience.

  2. September 5, 2008 10:47 pm

    Thanks pamthropologist. I think it’s very interesting to compare and contrast the ‘nation-building’ experiences of people across regions, given the different waves of postcolonial/post-imperial state formation in the Americas, Europe, Africa-Asia and former Soviet bloc. This was the starting point of my study of media and nation building among the Iban of Malaysia – ie to place this case within a third wave (post WWII) of sovereign state formations.


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