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It's Personal: Nostalgia and National Identity in Switzerland


The politics of nostalgia, exploiting fears of multi-culturalism and immigration, has come to dominate populist rhetoric of the last 15 years, both in the United States and abroad. The rise of restorative nostalgia is even found in societies that present as culturally diverse and progressive. To understand how such a politics of emotion gains traction, especially in diverse societies, it is important to unpack how people come to understand themselves as natural national subjects. Switzerland provides an excellent case study both in its long history of constitutional nationalism and its multi-cultural nation-state structure. Studies on nationalism rarely account for how people personalize national identity, but this dissertation explores ways that familiar objects of everyday life convey collective sentiments of nationalism and national belonging, and how interactions of individuals with these objects reinforce personal and collective attachment to the modern nation-state.

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