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Warfare and the sacralisation of nations: the meanings, rituals and politics of national remembrance

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Although the nation is supposedly a secular modern community, characterised by linear chronological time, I argue that warfare contributes to the creation of the nation as a sacred community of sacrifice in three respects. Firstly, it can act as a mythomoteur in the historical consciousness of populations so that it becomes a reference point or framework for explaining and evaluating events. Secondly, in the modern era it generates a cult of the fallen soldier organised around commemorative rituals and practices that seek to form a moral community. Thirdly, the consequences of warfare shape the long-term social and political goals of national populations, often at the expense of their individual welfare. After elaborating on these aspects, I will investigate the following topics. Firstly, what is the evidence supporting the idea of the nation as a mnemonic community of sacrifice? Secondly, who generates such ‘memories’, why and what purposes do they serve? Finally, what sustains the power of such ‘memories’ over time, in an increasingly sceptical and supposedly postmodern age?

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/26547/

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