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Canadian Review of American Studies/ Revue cmrad1e1me d'etudes amer,cmneB Volume 27, Number J, 1997, pp 51-78 Are National Cultures and Identities an Optional Extra? EdelgardMahant 51 In writing this paper I assume the existence of three interrelated systems, an mc1p1ent world political system, a global economy, and an incipient world global culture. These three systems coexist with three lower level systems of governance, those of transnational regions 1 (Europe, Latin America), the as yet preeminent nation-states, and subnational systems, such as Quebec, Catalonia , or Tamil Nadu. Regional, national, and subnational systems subdivide mto the same categories as does the global system, that is political, economic, and cultural aspects. Nation-states are, or perhaps were, the political, economic, and for the most part also cultural entities which defined the nature of the modern world. Nation-states became amalgams, which at their apogee combined culture, governance, the economy, and sometimes also the religious adherence of the inhabitants into one all-encompassing system of governance and identity. One of the more neglected aspects of the study of nation-st,ltes has been the fact that they are collective entities, consisting of a great number of cross-cutting groups and individuals. The challenge in defining the postmodern political system that appears to be superseding the nation-state system is to move beyond the analogy of the 11ncames are daily radio broadcasts in Letzeburgesch, and since 1991, the weekly noon-hour Letzeburgesch news programme has been supplemented by an hour-long nightly news magazine. Other than that, Luxembourgers watch French or German programmes, which may or not originate in Luxembourg. The production of radio and television programmes beamed into neighbouring countries where the media tend to be treated as means of nation building if not political control, is one of Luxembourg's principal industries. Luxembourg has less than 400,000 people, but forty million Europeans regular tune in to Luxembourg-based radio or television stations (Schroen 1986, 67-68; Bossaert 1992, 83; Weber 1994, 148-51). French is the language of administration and, for the most part of politiL·s, though the trade unions tend to use German or the local language (Schroen 1986, 6-7). In education, all children have one year of teaching in Letzeburgesch . German is introduced in the second year, French in the third. In the academic high schools, French tends to predominate by the time the young people write their final examinations, whereas German is more common in the technical schools. There is no Luxembourg university, only a teachers' college and a first-year college. Luxembourgers who want to contmue their studies usually study in France (Bossaert 1992, 72-73; Clyne 1995, 51-55). There is limited government subsidization of culture. From 1950 to 1977, the government aided the creation of a standard dictionary of the language; it subsidizes a local language and folklore society and one national newspaper , but gives only limited subsidies to broadcasts in the local language. The medi,1 are expected to earn money for Luxembourg! As in all European countries, there is some subsidization of culture as such. Since 1985, there has been a revival of publishing in Lctzeburgesch, especially in children's literature. A number of translation of Dutch and French children's favourites as well as some indigenous Luxembourg books have appeared (Schroen 1986, 67-68; Bossacrt 1992, 83-87; "Renaissance" 1992). A EuropeanCulturalIdentity? The EU performs some of the functions of national governments, but docs so without the benefit of national identities or national cultures. In so doing, EdelgardMahant I 67 EU leaders have largely limited their vision to the analogy of the preexisting nation-state, that is they have tried to build a European nation-state, which would cap the existing nation-state system, much as Canada united the existing British North American L~olonies.While expressing their continued support for national and subnational cultures, European elites have also been pursuing the elusive goal of a European identity. Uwe Hedctoft, a Danish academic points to the schizophrenic attitude of European leaders on the issue of identity: they pay lip-service to the idea of European identity while rejecting it "as a form of rival emotionalism" (Hedetoft 1990...


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