Foundational discourses

Authored by: Gabriele Pisarz Ramirez

The Routledge Handbook to the Culture and Media of the Americas

Print publication date:  March  2020
Online publication date:  March  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138479821
eBook ISBN: 9781351064705
Adobe ISBN:


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Foundational narratives are formative stories that constitute core elements of a nation’s imaginary. They are narratives of relatedness that help construct national identity in setting up the idea of the nation as an imagined community bound to a particular place (Augé 1995, 43). Such narratives transmit specific values and ideals as well as ideological content. The idea of nations as ideologically constructed “imagined communities” was first introduced by Benedict Anderson (1983) who argues that modern nations emerged out of the nationalist revolutions that occurred throughout the Americas in the late 18th and early 19th century (→ Nation and State Building, I/16). He sees the rise of print culture as a key element in the formation of national consciousness, an observation that highlights the impact of literature on the ideological formation of nations. Anderson explains that the narratives of religion are gradually replaced by the narratives of nation as a suitable “secular transformation of fatality into continuity” (1983, 11). Although nation-states are “conceded to be ‘new’ and ‘historical’”, the narratives created about them suggest that they “loom out of an immemorial past, and, still more important, glide into a limitless future” (11–12).

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