Via ABC’s Big Ideas:
The wartime memoirs of Charles de Gaulle open with a celebrated evocation of his native land: “a certain idea of France”. The words express the widely-held view of the nation as the most significant focus and resonant form of collective human identity, the end point to which the whole of history was inexorably tending, initially in Europe, and eventually throughout the whole world.
In the course of his lecture at Melbourne University’s Festival of Ideas, British historian David Cannadine looks at the evidence for such a proposition and the evidence against. He also explores the part historians themselves have played in the creation and the undermining of national identities. Will the notion of the nation survive in an increasingly globalised world where boundaries are more porous and less defined than ever before?
Sir David Cannadine is the Whitney J Oates Senior Research Scholar within the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University. He is also a history lecturer and author working within the university. Cannadine is the author of twelve books, including “The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy”, “Ornamentalism: How the British Saw Their Empire”, “Mellon: An American Life” and “Making History Now and Then”.