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Nationalism and War$
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John Hutchinson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198798453

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198798453.001.0001

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Warfare, Memorialization, and the Formation of National Communities

Warfare, Memorialization, and the Formation of National Communities

(p.50) 2 Warfare, Memorialization, and the Formation of National Communities
Nationalism and War

John Hutchinson

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyses how the effects of warfare in the premodern and modern periods help construct nations as quasi-religious communities of sacrifice, by affecting their meaning systems, differentiating them from others, giving rise to new collective rituals (commemorations of the fallen soldier) that form populations into moral communities, and inspiring long-term political projects that direct the long-term behaviour of individuals. It argues that nations inspire acts of collective self-sacrifice and that myths of sacrifice are not just political constructs but created by ordinary people out of a search for meaning. It examines the significance of cultural wars arising out of competing mythologies. It explores the circumstances under which wars reinforce or erode national identities and considers cases of pacific nations. Finally, it examines how we can explain the persistence and periodic revival of long-gone myths of war.

Keywords:   warfare, community, commemoration, ritual, myth, sacrifice, pacific nation, cultural war

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