The power of national symbols: the credibility of a dragon’s efficacy

Sleeboom, Margaret (2002) The power of national symbols: the credibility of a dragon’s efficacy. Nations And Nationalism, 8 (3). pp. 299-313. ISSN 1469-8129

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It is only when symbols gain meaning as effective triggers of associated sentiments in many linked contexts, including that of daily life, that they become powerful. It is what is perceived as the proved ability of the state to correct disobedience to its rule and violation to its sovereignty that commands commitment and loyalty, necessary for state symbols to become effective. As long as the link between symbol and effect can be made credible as a natural connection of cause and effect, by rational or irrational means, by folk narrative or academic theory, triggering the national symbol works in the mind of its believers. In this article I discuss the role of academics in the creation of national symbolism. Using some examples of historical and anthropological interpretations of the notion of the dragon, I argue that the cognitive aspect of nationalism is of crucial importance to the efficacy of national symbols. Thus arguments on the dragon’ various shapes, origins and merits as totem, embryo and sea snake attach and support different symbolic and political meanings of the Chinese nation.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
Depositing User: Nadya Herrera Catalan
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2015 13:57
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2015 13:57
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