No Country for Old Myths Reconstructing Canadian Identity through the War of 1812

Title: No Country for Old Myths Reconstructing Canadian Identity through the War of 1812
Authors: Schulmann, Paul Vladimir
Date: 2012
Abstract: Commemorating historical events is an intimately political phenomenon. What nations choose to commemorate or not, is indicative of a nation‘s collective memory. Reconstructing collective memory allows governments to influence a nation‘s ethos, which in turn, creates a symbiosis between governmental and popular conceptions of identity and political values. This paper examines the role of the Canadian federal government in shaping collective memory through its efforts to commemorate the War of 1812. I suggest that these efforts are part of a larger project of reshaping Canadian identity away from the Liberal Party‘s conception, towards a more conservative orientation. In this measure, I examine how and why collective memory becomes institutionalized, and discus what these efforts reveal about the connection between Canadian identity and federal institutions. Additionally, I analyze whether these attempts are effective through content analysis. I look particularly at the content of government websites as well as newspapers and magazines with significant readerships. This elucidates different perspectives on the war, and helps gauge the public‘s receptiveness to governmental narratives. This process revealed that there is no singular perspective on the war, suggesting that the government‘s attempts to alter national ethos through commemoration, has as of yet, been ineffectual. Furthermore, the conception of Canadian identity suggested by governmental narratives may not resonate with a large portion of the population, and may have the effect (intended or otherwise) of alienating these groups. I conclude that the government should consider these alternative views in its framing of history, as they from an integral and important component of Canadian identity.
CollectionAffaires publiques et internationales - Mémoires // Public and International Affairs - Research Papers