A Passion for the Nation: Masculinity, Modernity, and Nationalist Struggle


Elliston, Deborah. 2004. “A Passion for the Nation: Masculinity, Modernity, and Nationalist Struggle.” American Ethnologist 31 (4): 606–30.

Author: Deborah Elliston


In the mid-1990s, young Polynesian men emerged at the frontlines of proindependence sentiment and mobilization in the Society Islands of France's overseas territory, French Polynesia. In this article, I ask why. In pursuing that question, I argue for the theoretical and empirical productivity of shifting the associations between masculinity and nationalist struggle out of the realm of common sense and into that of the sociological; that is, of moving away from the analytics of gender foundationalism and into interrogations of the very social processes through which gender differences, masculinities more specifically, are produced. Through ethnographic analysis of gendered labor practices and their mediation by and through households, I track how young men's positioning within those most local arenas of social action shaped their engagements with competing local formulations of tradition and modernity and, through those engagements, their commitments to large-scale nationalist struggle.

Topics: Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Households, Livelihoods, Nationalism Regions: Oceania

Year: 2004

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