Hot, banal and everyday nationalismBilingual road signs in Wales

Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-173
Number of pages10
JournalPolitical Geography
Volume28
Issue number3
DOI
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009
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Abstract

The paper focuses on Billig's (Billig, M. (1995). Banal nationalism. London: Sage) notion of banal nationalism. While Billig's work is to be commended for demonstrating the way in which nationalism is an endemic political ideology in all states – and not merely an extreme or hot political ideology that is based upon “blood and belonging” (Ignatieff, M. (1993). Blood and belonging: Journeys into the new nationalism. London: BBC Books) – we suggest that his work tends, perhaps unwittingly, to reinforce an unwarranted separation of the banal and hot processes that reproduce nationalism. Some empirical work has implicitly and explicitly begun to question the distinction between banal and hotter forms of nationalism. We argue that one way in which such an agenda can be furthered is through a promotion of the idea of everyday nationalism, which combines banal and hot elements in more complex and contingent ways. We elaborate on the benefits of adopting such an approach through an empirical discussion of the campaign in favour of bilingual road signs in Wales between 1967 and 1975. We focus, first, on how monolingual English road signs were constructed by Welsh nationalists as part of an everyday landscape of oppression and, second, on the everyday politics of road signs within the spaces of government. We conclude the paper by reaffirming the need to move beyond notions of banal and hot nationalism and to focus on the everyday contexts within which nationalism is reproduced.

Keywords

  • Banal nationalism, Everyday, Wales, Road signs, Bilingualism