Activity: Talk or presentation › Lecture and oral contribution
If we compare nation-building and nation-branding as communication processes consisting of a message with a sender and a receiver, there is one obvious difference between them on the receiver-side. Whereas nation-building targets a nation’s own population, nation-branding is – in principle at least – primarily targeted everybody else. The purposes of the processes are related to identity- and image-building and varies with the targets, the main purpose of nation-building being reinforcing collective identity and self-identification within the nation, whereas nation-branding seeks to improve foreigners’ image of the nation. The inhabitants of the spaces outside the borders, however, also play an important role in nation-building processes just as the nation’s own population plays a decisive role in its outward branding. In both cases, the borders act as mirrors or projection screens, which are often both insufficiently conceptualized as well as under-researched. Classical theories of nationalism thus generally have not included a strong conceptualization of the ‘others’ and their role in the nation-building process. Despite the fact that various authors mention that it is important that the nation’s own inhabitants ‘live the brand’, most nation-branding literature and certainly the indexes constructed to measure brands remain one-dimensional and unable to grasp the mutually constitutive roles of the internal and external dimensions of image- and identity-building. In this paper I propose to critically compare these two types of processes particularly with a view to further theoretical reflection on nation brands, their comparison or measurement and the possibility or impossibility of nation-branding.