National  Narrative – Anika Baunack

University of Zurich

“The  term  ‘national  narrative’  describes  a  certain  kind  of  narrative,  that  is  part  of  the   collective  construction  of  nations.  National  narratives  give  shape  to  the  beliefs,  the   aspirations  and  the  sense  of  identity  of  national  groups  or  nations  as  a  whole.   Based  on  the  assumption,  that  our  world  knowledge  is  due  to  socially  produced   symbolic  systems  or  orders  that  are  shaped  in  and  through  discourses,  it  can  be   assumed,  that  generally  accepted  interpretations  of  nations  or  national  belonging,  are   also  constructed  by  and  strategically  imparted  through  discourses [1].   As  their  regulation  system  narrative  schemes  give  meaning  to  discourses  and  have  the   potential  to  transform  the  knowledge  orders  that  exist  within  them:  Discourses  are   reproduced  and  transformed  by  specific  collective  narratives.

With  regard  to  the  question  how  a  certain  concept  of  a  nation  is  established,  Hall  (2002)   refers  to  what  he  calls  ‘Narrating  the  Nation’ [2].  He  argues  that  the  construction  of  a   nation  and  national  identity  is  based  on  generally  accepted  narratives  about  the  nation,   which  we  tell  ourselves  and  that  inspire  our  vision  of  it.  Those  stories  are  being  told  on   the  media  level,  they  are  being  distributed  through  popular  culture,  formed  and   celebrated  by  national  symbols  and  through  rituals[3].

As  components  of  discourses  national  narratives  not  only  reflect  pre-­‐given  concepts  of  a   nation,  they  reproduce  them  and  ‘both  enact  and  perform  the  nation  through   reiteration’ [4].”

Anika Baunack, University of Zurich


1 Cf. Reiner Keller: Doing Discourse Research. An Introduction, Wiesbaden 2007, S. 57.
2 Stuart Hall: Racism and Cultural Identity. Ausgewählte Schriften 2, Hamburg 2002, S. 202.
3 Cf. Hall 2002, S. 202.
4 Véronique Mottier: Narratives of National Identity: Sexuality, Race, and the Swiss ›Dream of Order‹. Paper presented at the European Consortium for Political Research Annual Sessions; Workshop: The Political Uses of Narrative Mannheim, 26-31 March 1999, 1999, S. 4. [online] Available at: [Accessed 27 May 2018].