Category Archives: Contemporary Culture

Ellen and Mike and Empire (225/303/310/485)

Imperialism is hegemonic in the sense that the citizens of Empire are often shocked or angered by the assertion that they do, in fact, live in one– usually before they bother to define that term.

In honor of Fleet Week– which is clearly a symbol of American Empire– here are two speeches that have been supplemented with images.

First, a by-now viral video of Ellen.

I’d never heard of this next one until yesterday. I don’t know who originally made it.

Consider our discussions about hegemony and interpretation. What codes and values are invoked by these clips? How does form shape or undermine content? Do you live in an Empire? What evidence and arguments support your claim?

Nation/alism (415)

Both of the novels we’ve read thus far dramatize the issue of nationalism, though it seems to me our approach to that concept remains under-theorized. The most influential writing on the nation and nationalism includes the work of Benedict Anderson, Ernst Gellner, and Eric Hobsbawm. (In a US context, we could also consider the thinking of Black Panther Party founder Huey Newton, whose political commitments led him to reject even broadly anti-establishment ethnic and cultural nationalisms as a species of fetishizing chauvinism which he disparaged rather cuttingly as “porkchop nationalism.” Angela Davis notes this distrust of Afrocentric cultural nationalism was based, in part, on these ease with which it was commodified.)

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