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15 - Portable Patriotism

Britannia and Material Nationhood in Miniature

from Part IV - Small Things on the Move

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 September 2022

Chloe Wigston Smith
Affiliation:
University of York
Beth Fowkes Tobin
Affiliation:
Arizona State University
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Summary

This chapter tackles how the concept of British nationhood was mediated by small, portable material goods in the century that followed the 1707 Acts of Union. While existing narratives of nation-making have focused on the political, religious, and military forging of Britishness, this chapter instead considers how Britain’s intersecting industrial and commercial transformations offered opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to commoditize nationhood through material culture. This chapter restores the materiality of nationhood to historical narratives of patriotism to show that the commercialization of Britishness, through small things, provided a means of manufacturing and molding an affective form of British identity. This chapter focuses specifically on how the figurehead of Britannia signalled a material patriotism that could be worn, carried, and displayed at moments of national importance. Her image, as warrior queen, mother of the nation, and colonial pioneer, was replicated on fans, jewelry, and other decorative objects to formulate miniature material articulations of a national rhetoric. These small items held chronometric and affective significance for their owners and were complex signals of both transient and more enduring feelings of patriotism.

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Chapter
Information
Small Things in the Eighteenth Century
The Political and Personal Value of the Miniature
, pp. 240 - 256
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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