ABSTRACT

Earlier discussions in this book provided a foreground to the complexities of the theorization and lived expressions of national identities. The fluid, contradictory nature of identities reinforce an understanding of the importance of the sites within which identities are constructed and ‘structures of feeling’ experienced. Chapter 3 examined the ways in which an official discourse of the nation and thereby national identities is constructed in relation to one nation-state, Ecuador. Clearly, there are important historical markers for the articulation of ‘the nation’, juxtaposed to the important territorial claims (which have focused on the Ecuador-Peru border dispute) which are part of the school history syllabus coming to occupy a special place in an individual’s understanding of herself or himself as Ecuadorean. Thus, time and space are both crucial to the configuration which comes to be known as a national identity. But historicized time and geographically located space are not simply axes around which identities and nation-states are built. As Chapter 3 makes clear, both are re-presented to the populace within the public realm via schooling, national monuments and museums as part of the process Althusser (1972) called interpellation, a process which ‘calls forth’ subjects, drawing them into a discourse which itself shifts the sense of identity. Clearly, the official discourses of the nation are organized to do this from schooling and through public ceremonies, but it is not simply top-down ideological work. Children in Ecuador visiting the Mitad del Mundo museum showed evident delight in the ‘exhibits’ and, we want to suggest, in the ways in which they could place themselves as part of the plurality of national ethnicities and cultures ‘exhibited’ for their education and induction. The children are not, therefore, simply passive recipients of messages but active interpreters of a world represented in the museum, fashioned from the lived experience of Ecuador. In placing themselves in the nation as subjects called forth by the exhibits and the space of the museum, the children were practising a correlative imaginary which set the individual and the nation side by side, one and one, 1 and 1. Thus the interpellation and the structure of feeling of a national identity within a specific nation could be sustained via the inclusivity signified in this case by the ‘exhibits’ which generated such a positive and active response from the children. These processes are one part of the national story which promotes inclusion and

horizontal integration consistently undermined, in effect, by the exclusions of region, class and racism.