Friday, December 08, 2006

The Jelly Doughnut Test

Thinking about the trend to push the origins of national identities further into the past, I think that historians should employ the jelly doughnut* test: national indentities should be mutually intelligible and communicable. Not being enough to feel one way or another (feelings can be deceptive), potential co-nationals ought to share a political vocabulary and collective memory, at least rudiments thereof, but more importantly, the willingness to see each other as members of the same nation. In many cases, nationality is negotiation rather than self-identification.

* Based on John F. Kennedy's statement "Ich bin ein Berliner," which some Germans mistook allegedly for "I am a jelly doughnut."

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