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Having a soul or choosing a face? Nation branding, identity and cosmopolitan imagination

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If nation branding is about constructing and promoting national identity, what kind of ‘identity’ could it possibly be? This article analyses how the branded nation qualitatively differs from earlier forms of imagined communities by focusing on the tension between inward- and outward-directed dimensions of nation branding. A particular focus is placed on the concept of ‘identity’, which, it is argued, is insufficiently problematized in previous research. The discussion takes its departure in a case study of Ukraine, where all nation branding attempts came to an abrupt halt when political unrest broke out in late 2013. The political unrest led to a rapid shift in forms of concern over Ukraine, since nation branding can only be conducted in times of relative social harmony. The case further illustrates the argument that collective identity is not a main issue when branding a nation, and it is argued that a perspective of cosmopolitanism can bring new insights to the phenomenon.
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Keywords: Nation branding; Ukraine; cosmopolitanism; identity; media

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Media and Communication Studies, Södertörn University, Stockholm, Sweden

Publication date: May 3, 2016

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