Contemporary Regional Identity – Thoughts and Questions?

November 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

Primacy of Place in a Federal Nation:

Have we as Americans lost our regional consciousness that was so strong in the 18th century? Or has it been overshadowed by our preoccupation with our own national self-awareness? Does not our contemporary society’s focus on national elections, to the detriment of local elections, demonstrate an increasingly “national” identity? Is this Lears’ cultural hegemony at work?

While these questions are vague, they point to phenomena in this country that is increasingly nationalized. Western historians would cringe to hear anyone discredit regionality, especially in the American West. Yet is this the direction we are facing with national media and the cloud? Has our national connectivity and simultaneity homogenized the nation?

As I write this blog and tweet at @calhistorian I am interacting in a predominantly national mode; not necessarily in a regional or local one. Of course it is split between the two, but which informs my (& our) identity more? My media intake rests (unfortunately) on national audience pressures and generalized coverage for the masses. Has media agglomeration silenced the local and regional? While the digital world has obliterated the tyranny of space in communication, this has only led to the silencing of the micro and local world where we actually exist and live our daily lives – or at least rendering it relatively insignificant in forming our broader American identities? Problems in local governance, general public apathy, and a weak local civic culture are, it seems, manifestations of this movement towards a particular national consciousness. Does this trend lend to the critics that nationalism is inherently negative and exclusionary when it selects and silences varying cultures?

Check out the categories of “Regional Identity” for more on how I have begun to define this inquiry.

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