One Hundred Percent Americanism: Material Culture and Nationalism, Then and Now

  • Margaret C. WoodEmail author


This article examines the ways that specific interest groups within the American nation use material culture to attempt to define the parameters of a shared national identity. Case studies are drawn from the first decades of the twentieth century (1900–30) and the early years of the 21st century (2000–12). Analysis of landscapes and artifacts excavated from the working-class industrial town of Berwind in southern Colorado show how an early twentieth-century corporation and its immigrant workers used mundane objects to debate, through symbols, the meanings of citizenship and the nation. An analysis of yellow ribbon magnets used and created by supporters of the Iraq War (2003+) in the 21st century will show how material symbols are deployed in an attempt to reinforce a specific, but contested vision of the nation and the nature of her citizenry.


Nationalism Identity Race Landscape Yellow Ribbons War 



Many thanks as always to LouAnn Wurst for her thoughtful and constructive comments. Thanks to the Wenner Gren Foundation and Washburn University for support of my research and writing.


  1. Bender, B., and Winer, M. (2001). Contested Landscapes: Movements, Exile and Place, Berg, Oxford.Google Scholar
  2. Burghart, D., and Zeskind, L. (2010). Tea Party Nationalism: A Critical Examination of the Tea Party Movement and the size, Scope, and Focus of Its National Factions, Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, Kansas City.Google Scholar
  3. Chomsky, N. (2002). Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda, Seven Stories Press, New York.Google Scholar
  4. Clark, B. (2005). Lived ethnicity: archaeology and identity in Mexicano America. World Archaeology 37: 440–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Diaz-Andreu, M., and Lucy, S. (2005). Archaeology of Identity, Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  6. Dulles, F. R., and Dubofsky, M. (1984). Labor in America: A History, 4th ed, Harlan Davidson, Arlington Heights.Google Scholar
  7. Fisher, L. (2003). Deciding on war against Iraq: institutional failures. Political Science Quarterly 118: 389–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fisher, G., and Loren, D. D. (2003). Introduction: embodying identity in archaeology. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 13: 225–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Foucault, M. (1989). The subject and power. In Dreyfus, H. L., and Rainbow, P. (eds.), Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 208–228.Google Scholar
  10. Foucault, M. (1991). The Foucault Reader, Penguine, London.Google Scholar
  11. Garofoli, J. (2005). Blue and red divided over yellow bibbons: “Support our Troops” car magnets arrive with political rebuttals. San Francisco Chronicle 1: A1.Google Scholar
  12. Hehman, E., Gaertner, S., and Dovidio, J. (2011). Evaluations of presidential performance: race, prejudice, and perceptions of Americanism. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 47: 430–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Higham, J. (1955). Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism, 1860–1925, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick.Google Scholar
  14. Joyce, R. (2005). Archaeology of the body. Annual Review of Anthropology 34: 139–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kertzer, D. I. (1988). Ritual, Politics, and Power, Yale University Press, New Haven.Google Scholar
  16. Li, Q., and Brewer, M. (2004). What does it mean to be an American? Patriotism, nationalism, and American identity after 9/11. Political Psychology 25: 727–739.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lilley, T., Best, J., Aguirre, B., and Lowney, K. S. (2010). Magnetic imagery: war-related ribbons as collective display. Sociological Inquiry 80: 313–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Meskell, L. M. (1999). Archaeologies of Social Life:Age, Sex Class etc. in Ancient Egypt, Blackwell, Oxford.Google Scholar
  19. Meskell, L. M. (2001). Archaeologies of identity. In Hodder, I. (ed.), Archaeological Theory Today, Polity Press, Cambridge, pp. 187–213.Google Scholar
  20. Milbank, D., and Deane, C. (2005). Polls find dimmer view of Iraq War. Washington Post 6: A01.Google Scholar
  21. Ong, A. (1996). Cultural citizenship as subject-making: immigrants negotiate racial and cultural boundaries in the United States. Current Anthropology 37: 737–763.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Orser Jr., C. E. (2007). The Archaeology of Race and Racialization in Historic America, University of Florida Press, Gainsville.Google Scholar
  23. Pencak, W. (1989). For God and Country: The American Legion, 1919–1941, Northeastern University Press, Boston.Google Scholar
  24. Reckner, P. E. (2001). Negotiating patriotism at the Five Points: clay tobacco pipes and patriotic imagry among trade unionists and nativists in a nineteenth century New York neighborhood. Historical Archaeology 35(3): 103–114.Google Scholar
  25. Rosaldo, R. (1994). Cultural citizenship in San Jose, California. Polar 17: 57–63.Google Scholar
  26. Schmidt, R. A., and Voss, B. L. (eds.) (2000). Archaeologies of Sexuality, Routledge, London.Google Scholar
  27. Selekman, B. M., and Van Kleeck, M. (1924). Employes’ Representation in Coal Mines: A Study of the Industrial Reprepresentation Plan of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company, Russell Sage, New York.Google Scholar
  28. Taylor, N. (2013). Spurs defend 11-year old anthem singer, New York Times June 14, 2013. <>.
  29. Tenety, E. (2001). Santorum, GOP continue anti-Sharia campaign. Washington Post, March 14.Google Scholar
  30. Thompson, F., and Murfin, P. (1976). The IWW: Its First Seventy Years, Industrial Workers of the World, Chicago.Google Scholar
  31. Wood, M. C. (2002). Fighting For Our Homes”: An Archaeology of Women’s Domestic Labor and Social Change in a Working-Class Coal Mining Community. Doctoral dissertation, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and AnthropologyWashburn UniversityTopekaUSA

Personalised recommendations