Blood Sacrifice and the Nation: Totem Rituals and the American Flag

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Overview

This book argues that American patriotism is a civil religion of blood sacrifice, which periodically kills its children to keep the group together. The flag is the sacred object of this religion; its sacrificial imperative is a secret which the group keeps from itself to survive. Expanding Durkheim's theory of the totem taboo as the organizing principle of enduring groups, Carolyn Marvin and David Ingle uncover the system of sacrifice and regeneration which constitutes American nationalism, show why historical instances of these rituals succeed or fail in unifying the nation, and explain how mass media are essential to the process.
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Editorial Reviews

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"This is a book for those who are willing to examine some of their most basic assumptions about what it means to be an American. ...well written..." Choice
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Product Details

Table of Contents

Illustrations
List of graphs
Acknowledgments
1 Introduction 1
2 That old flag magic 9
3 Theorizing the flagbody 41
4 The totem myth 63
5 Death touchers and border crossers 98
6 Strategic tinkering: totem memory and succession 129
7 Refreshing the borders 172
8 Dismemberment and reconstruction 215
9 Fresh blood, public meat 248
10 One size fits all 292
11 Epilogue 312
App. 1 The flag in life: Representational politics of the Stars and Stripes 317
App. 2 Representative coding categories 335
Notes 337
Selected bibliography 383
Index 390
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