What's Left of Patriotism?: An Open Reading Group at the Museum of Baltimore

pa.tri.ot [ ptr-t, -t ]

n. One who loves, supports, and defends one's country.

[French patriote, from Old French, compatriot, from Late Latin patrita, from Greek 
patrits, from patrios, of one's fathers, from patr, patr-, father; see pter- in Indo-European roots.]
American Heritage Dictionary, 3rd edition
Rather than affirm patriotism as a "healthy" form of community (as opposed to the supposedly regressive forces 
of nationalism), or simply condemn it as a mere ideological illusion (as many on the left tend to do), we will 
attend to it as an enduring though problematic structure of feeling whose meaning is a matter of political struggle. 
Because patriotism, or "love of country," is an irreducibly aesthetic, imaginative phenomenon, a museum of 
contemporary art is an especially relevant site for such a discussion. 
Participants in this open discussion are encouraged to read these texts in advance, and if they choose, to bring 
other articles and artifacts that may be pertinent to addressing the history and viability of patriotism as a form 
of political identification in the United States and elsewhere. 

1) Reclaiming U.S. Patriotism, Post-911?

--Michael Kazin "A Patriotic Left"  Dissent Fall 2002

Drawing from the history of abolitionism, populism and the civil rights movement, the radical historian admonishes cosmopolitan liberals (Nussbaum) and far-left internationalists (Chomsky) that "To rage against patriotic symbols is to wage a losing battle" in the struggle for progressive hegemony in the contemporary U.S.


--Jesse Jackson 'Address to the Democratic National Convention' July 28, 2004

"But a new day is dawning. A new America turning pain into power. Beyond the extreme right

wing is a beautiful rainbow of all of God's children. Out of the darkness of the bushes, we see the

soaring of an authentic American eagle on the horizon. Hope cometh in the morning."


2) Postnational Feelings?

--Arjun Appadurai "Patriotism and Its Futures" Public Culture, Fall 1993

A classic statement of 90's postcolonial theorizations of "globalization" that begins by

declaring "We need to think ourselves beyond the nation." This text is somewhat long,

but the first few paragraphs are definitely worth skimming.


--Michael Hardt: Porto Alegre: Today's Bandung? New Left Review 2002

The theorist of the postnational "multitude" visits the World Social Forum and reacts with

frustration that many activists in the Global South continue to look to the nation-state as a

viable agent of emancipation.