Studies in Newspaper and Periodical History: 1995 Annual

By Michael Harris ; Tom O'Malley | Go to book overview

played an integral part in the formation of a local politics of Welsh national identity. 92 Our evidence indicates that these processes of national identity formation were much more diverse and contested in their articulation than has perhaps hitherto been thought. Both the Western Mail and the South Wales Daily News projected a range of different perspectives on Welsh history and politics that, from the vantage point of today, are not easily categorized as pro- or antinationalist. Each daily gave priority to the idea of Wales as a part of the empire and, in turn, fought over the nature of the Welsh (but Westminster-based) politics that should shape that polity. Hence in our view it is important that we explore the involvement in the press of those social groups that, at that time, were seen to be authorized keepers of the national past and the "genuine facts" of its history. Wales was undergoing dramatic change in this period, but the complex and contradictory effectivity of the press in these transformations needs further analysis and critique. However, as we have argued, it was not involved in a wider process of imposing a dominant definition of Welsh national identity, nor in the elimination of "tokens of antiquity" from popular memory.


NOTES
1
We would like to thank Chris Evans and Patrick Hagopian for commenting on an earlier draft of this chapter. The authors received support in preparing this chapter from the Regional Research Programme of the University of Glamorgan.
2
D. Defoe, A Tour through the Whole Island of Great Britain, ed. Pat Rogers ( London: Penguin, 1971), p. 376. Vortigern was a British leader of the fifth century, while Mortimer was the Earl of March ( 1287-1330), ibid., pp. 377 and 705. Volume II of the Tour, from which the description of Wales is taken, was first published in 1725.
4
For a discussion of national identity see B. Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism, 2nd ed. ( London: Verso, 1991). On the cultural politics of identity formation, see S. Hall , "The Question of Cultural Identity," in Modernity and Its Futures, ed. S. Hall , D. Held and T. McGrew ( Cambridge: Polity, 1992). The role of social memory in processes of national identity is explored in J. Fentress and C. Wickham, Social Memory ( Oxford: Blackwell, 1992); D. Thelen, "Memory and American History," The Journal of American History, 75, no. 4 ( 1989): 1117-29. See also M. Foucault, "Film and Popular Memory," Foucault Live ( New York: Semiotext(e), 1989) and discussions of popular memory in R. Johnson, G. McLennan, B. Schwartz and D. Sutton, eds., Making Histories: Studies in History-Writing and Politics ( London: Hutchinson, 1982).
5
Prys Morgan, "From a Death to a View: The Hunt for the Welsh Past in the Romantic Period," in The Invention of Tradition, ed. E. Hobsbawm and T. Ranger ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 43-100.

-148-

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