Thry: Nation Branding

From Nation Building to Nation Branding This seminar will examine the relationship between cultural production and the imagined communities of the nation-state, from its origins in the nineteenth century to today's branding of place in a global market economy. Contemporary nation branding influences how history, memory, and identity are negotiated in major exhibitions, art fairs, tourist propaganda, and architectural monuments, most evident in emerging economies and postcolonial contexts where nation branding is privileged as a powerful development strategy. Nations now undertake brand marketing as if they were multinational corporations, leveraged through integrated messaging campaigns, which purport to distill a country's "essence" in terms of its sense of place, culture, and national character. Yet, as in the marketing of commodities, the scope of these strategies extends beyond marketing and distribution towards a remaking of the product itself. And in its most assertive form, nation branding approaches a form of social engineering, influencing governmental policies concerning urban planning, trade agreements, education, and indigenous rights. During the course of our discussions, we will draw on case studies from Europe, Asia, and Africa to examine visual culture across a wide range of media, but will also examine how media, and in particular social media, has challenged traditional concepts of nationhood.