The "borders and frontiers" theme also piques my interest, perhaps because this is a topic I had just discussed in my class on spatial politics earlier this week. We talked at length about borders and borderlands-- the area of tension surrounding a border (not just around a physical border, but around the lives of those who have experienced the harshness of a border). This is extremely interesting when talking about US and Mexico relations, since the US border is so unbelievably politicized and rigid, that is has become not just a tangible structure, but a concept and a way of analyzing identities and national relations. Brian Ladd spoke a bit to this idea in "The Ghosts of Berlin" through his investigation of the Berlin Wall. The Wall became "a temporal more than spatial barrier" and had much larger psychosocial consequences that persisted long after the majority of the Wall was torn down. Even now, it could be argued, the idea of the Wall still acts as a temporal border, permanently reflected in the German population and national identity even though it no longer functions as a spatial border.
Over the past couple of weeks, we've been discussing in class possible research topics and groups. I had some initial, vague, broad, ideas: gender and sexuality studies, dialects and accents as they relate to national identity, discrepancies in access to education... etc. However, after discussing with my peers, I rested on a really intriguing topic: national identity and memorialization. I'm interested most in how a sense of national identity is fostered through the creation of memorials, and how those memorials further create a sense of national pride or national disdain (the former being more common, I presume). This is particularly interesting, as I mentioned in my first blog post, because Germany has the Berlin Wall, a memorial which was accidental and reflective of a negative time in the country's history. How does the presence of this wall influence a national identity for Berliners and Germans? Memorials like the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, Mount Rushmore, and others seem to only focus on the great people of the United States' history-- even war memorials serve to only remember the fallen US soldiers, but fail to address the harm and pain the country caused by being involved in various wars. Does this foster a sense of national pride that is skewed and undeserved? Do other German memorials have a similar effect? I might be also interested in tying these ideas to the "other," i.e. how the presence of memorials shapes a narrow but strong national identity to the point of exclusion of immigrant populations because they do not, and apparently cannot, have this same sense of connection and belonging to the specific country.