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This I believe : a sort of national anthem

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Title:This I believe : a sort of national anthem
Authors:Hart, Patricia Ann
Keywords:National Public Radio
Date Issued:Aug 2013
Publisher:[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2013]
Abstract:This study explores how a weekly audience-participation program called This I Believe, which broadcast from 2005 to 2009 on National Public Radio's most popular news programs, provides its listeners with an 'American' national identity by which to see themselves, others, and the world during the historical moment surrounding the Bush administration. This I Believe is used as a case study because its essays on personal belief offer insight into the articulation and formation of the subjectivity of its liberal audience, whilst the programs' stated goal to promote a national dialogue about the common good provides an understanding of the construction and reproduction of nationalist discourses. Conceptualizing national identity as a socially constructed category and performance, and the 'nation' as constituted through narration and acts of imagination, this study analyzes texts for understanding how the national subject is (re)produced within discourse.
Analyzing nearly sixty essays, I reveal how the essayists employ a "liberal-style" of national power, drawing on liberal ideals of citizenship and state organization to articulate the 'nation,' shape national imaginaries, and sustain the fantasy of the "White nation." I show how by claiming that the public sphere is in crisis, corrupted by commercial, political, and religious interests, This I Believe offers to assist its listeners in reclaiming their voice and privileged national position within the 'nation.' I describe how the essayists' ideas of neighbors, home, security, freedom, terrorism, and tolerance do the work of reproducing nationalist structures of thought and help to reconstitute the national identities of the This I Believe audience. I contend that This I Believe is part of a larger liberal response to the conservative hegemony over morality. I argue that liberalism is the morally resonant discourse for the listeners of This I Believe and show how the election of President Obama legitimated liberal ideals of the inclusivity of the nation and the success of citizenship. I conclude that the redemption President Barack Obama offered was symbolic only, because the liberal ideas he embraces fail to acknowledge the structural inequalities which shape national belonging and place the responsibility for social change onto the already marginalized.
Description:Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2013.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Sociology

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