Reflective National Symbols




This reflective assessment is designed to help you to think critically about how narratives of the nation are framed in public spaces. We are inviting you to discover how national history is presented from various viewpointsand then to analyse how ‘national symbols’ are presented in the public sphere.

You should visit a site that uses national symbols (such a site may include a statue, fountain, plaque, memorial, museum, historical site, coat of arms on a building, etc…). Your task is to reflect on this site in relation to your set reading from Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities(Chapter 2, Cultural Roots).

Such a reflective writing task will help you to developand articulate your perspective, based on a particular local example, of how the nation is understood and represented, and the assumptions we make when we respond to national symbols. Your reading of Benedict Anderson should suggest some possible avenues of analysis and inquiry.

Follow the directions below when structuring your reflective exercise.

1. Research and then briefly identify when the site was established and its subsequent history. Outline whatnational ideas and/or symbols are presented, and in what way.
2. Note how the national narrative is presented. Also pay attention to how the story/symbols are framed in relation to the street, building, park, etc…Does this make a difference in the way we interpret the site?
3. Discuss the implied audience for the site – is it all citizens of the nation, or only some? Would all citizens relate to it in similar ways?
4. Think about your reading from Anderson’s Imagined Communities. Do you think the ideas he expresses can be applied to the site you have chosen? Which elements of the reading relate most strongly to your thoughts on the site, and where do you see differences?
5. Have your thoughts and feelings about the nation changed after analysing this site?