Publication details

‘It's (not) who we are’ : Representing the nation in US and Canadian newspaper articles about refugees entering the country

Authors

JAWORSKY Bernadette Nadya

Year of publication 2020
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Nations and Nationalism
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Social Studies

Citation
Web https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/nana.12574
Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/nana.12574
Keywords media; migration; nationhood/national identity; refugees
Attached files
Description Ideas about nation and national identity continue to be highly important, for both individuals and collectivities. In this article, I provide a cultural-sociological reconstruction of the meanings of national identity conveyed in US and Canadian newspaper coverage of refugees entering, or potentially entering, the country. I engage Billig's theory of ‘banal nationalism’ and Anderson's idea of ‘imagined communities’. In Canada, there is a single narrative that encapsulates ‘who we are’ – a generous, welcoming country for people fleeing extraordinarily difficult circumstances, who will eventually integrate and succeed. National identity is processual, narrated as an ongoing ‘national project’. In the US, there are two distinct storylines about ‘who we are not’. Both begin with the country depicted as a humanitarian leader but diverge along political party lines. The Democrats quoted invoke history and ‘American values’ to say this is not a country that turns its back on those in need; the Republicans argue that this is not a country that exposes its people to harm, so refugee admissions must be halted. National identity is more solid, represented in passing; ‘who we are’ is taken for granted by spelling out ‘who we are not’.
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