Cultural Intimacy-ch7

Cultural Intimacy-ch7 - Cultural Intimacy Social Poetics in...

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Cultural Intimacy: Social Poetics in the Nation-State Michael Herzfeld Chapter 7 (p.147-182): Structural Nostalgia – Time and Oath in the Mountain Villages of Crete Introduction: Reciprocity as Nostalgia and Practice Structural nostalgia refers to a collective representation of a time before time . Structural nostalgia characterises the discourse of both the official state and its most lawless citizens. For the state the model legitimises its intervention as an act of restoring a formerly perfect social order. For the lawless, the model offers evidence of a condition of moral corruption that makes engagement with the state as acceptable, pragmatic accommodation; for people who define themselves in opposition to formal authority it is obedience, not lawlessness, that requires justification. Two features are crucial to the definition of structural nostalgia: 1. One is the replicability in every succeeding generation. Each youth cohort groans at its parents’ evocation of a time when everything was better: women were chaster and more aware of familial obligations and men were more directly implicated in the reciprocities of hospitality. Each cohort in turn reproduces the same yearning a few years or decades later. A rhetoric of change and decay may thus actually be quite static. 2. The second feature concerns the object of this rhetorical longing. That object takes the form of a damaged reciprocity: the virtue (whether love, respect or simply transactional honesty) that has allegedly decayed always entails some measure of mutuality, a mutuality that has been, perhaps irreversibly, ruptured by the self-interest of modern times. That the mutuality in question may not have been one of equal terms is obscured by the rhetoric of nostalgia: the relationship between nobles and commoners, or parents and children at a time when “people knew their place” is represented as ideally one in which those at the lower end of a hierarchical relationship were compensated by the total security it offered.
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