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National myths and rebounding violence

Nations and Nationalism

Published online on


["Nations and Nationalism, Volume 27, Issue 4, Page 943-959, October 2021. ", "\nAbstract\nThe article takes up the sacrificial theory of national myths presented by Steven J. Mock and discloses its further potential for understanding the symbolic structures of nationalism. While Mock builds mainly on a Girardian reinterpretation of Freud, I try to show that even more interesting results may be obtained by using Maurice Bloch's theory of ritual symbolism. The advantage of Bloch's model is threefold. (1) It discloses further interesting aspects of the sacrificial symbolism in national myths not noted by Mock. I illustrate some of these by a detailed analysis of the Czech national myth. (2) Bloch's model allows us to trace the sacrificial pattern not just in myths of the modern awakening of the nation but in myths concerning present‐day political events as well. As an example, I analyse symbols of defeat in several myths of Czech 20th‐century political leaders. (3) Bloch's model is more complex and thus allows us to understand different types of national myths than those featuring symbolism of defeat. As an example, I discuss imperial nationalism, which Mock considers as one of the exceptions to his theory, and I also use Bloch to throw interesting light on the distinction between “civic” and “ethnic” nationalism.\n"]