This panel investigates how diverse social actors deploy and engage with state-sanctioned narratives. Once state narratives of history become publicly available, who puts them to work and for what purposes or projects? What alliances, conflicts, or movements coalesce around these forms of knowledge?
Using diverse theoretical approaches, anthropologists have studied the relationship between state apparatuses and non-state actors, and the processes by which "the state" becomes objectified, legitimated, or undermined. Central to these processes is the production and usage of official state narratives. Such narratives might find expression in history books, public rituals, historical sites, civic education programs, and sometimes in everyday talk. Depending on the historical and ethnographic context, state narratives can be flexible, rigid, or can even be backed by legal sanctions if they are publicly contested. This panel focuses on the place of state narratives of history, culture, or politics in everyday social life. How do these narratives get produced and by whom? And once they become publicly available, who puts them to work and for what purposes? How do diverse social actors engage with state narratives, whether they are imposed, shared, contested, or some combination thereof? What alliances, conflicts, or movements coalesce around these forms of knowledge?
Possible topics include but are not limited to:
-the place of narrative in state formation projects and forging political legitimacy
-the contradictory uses or implications of official narratives of history
-competing official narratives, how they are deployed, and for what agendas
-the stories that social actors tell about themselves by invoking official histories
-knowledge production about the past, ownership of that knowledge, and how it circulates