Welcome to the Imagologica website, dedicated to the critical analysis of cultural stereotypes. Imagology, a specialism originally developed in the discipline of Comparative Literature, studies how certain temperamental characteristics are stereotypically imputed to certain nationalities.
The resulting “ethnotypes” (frivolous French, passionate Hungarians, thorough-going Germans) are commonplaces which change over time and migrate between genres and countries. While they have little or no empirical basis, they do exercise a real influence in how people judge the world and their position in it. Ethnotypes are both a complex culture-historical phenomenon and an important part of nationalistic prejudice and ethnocentrism, and stand in need of critical analysis for both reason.
More information under the About Imagology tab.
Newspaper headlines are increasingly taking the "why" form: "Why such-and-such is so-and-so". Threadbare as it is becoming by now (and patently serving as "clickbait"), it makes good journalistic sense: it raises a topic and at the same time promises an explanation. Two recent contributions to the Dutch Volkskrant show its questionable side in using the form "Why such and such a cultural group behaves in this or that manner".
The one that prompted this blog entry was Natalie Hanssen’s piece "This is why Danes are so happy: Be normal", with the sub-header "Don’t ever think that you are better than the others or that you amount to something special" (Dit is waarom de Denen zo gelukkig zijn: vooral normaal doen / Denk in godsnaam niet dat je beter bent dan een ander of überhaupt iets voorstelt); posted 17 November; online here). It adds its mite to the hygge hype by presenting the timeworn Danish cultural meme of Janteloven or “the law of Jante” [a fictionalized small town made famous in a 1933 book]. Not exactly a staggering new discovery - the wikipedia article on the topic has versions in 30 languages; nor so very Danish after all – the Dutch have their “doe maar gewoon” convention, and any small-town mentality will look askance at pretentious neighbours; but hey, don’t be a grouch, it’s good enough, apparently, for some diverting weekend reading.[....]
The imagology site will maintain a “Black book” of contemporary manifestations of national essentialism – the spread of ethnotypes and the belief in ethnicity/“culture” as a social explanation.
The electronic journal Iberic@l: Revue d’études ibériques et ibéro-américaines, published for the Institut d’Études hispaniques at the Sorbonne, has published a theme issue (nr 10, Autumn 2016) edited by Géraldine Galeote: La construction des identités nationales depuis une perspective transnationale. Iberic@l is online at http://iberical.paris-sorbonne.fr.
A Conference on National stereotyping and cultural identities in recent European crises will be held at the “Long Room Hub”, Trinity College Dublin, on 09-11 March 2017. It will investigate how recent European crises such as the Euro crisis, the Ukraine conflict, the threat of terrorism, increased migration, the rise of right wing, populist neo-nationalism across Europe and most recently the looming Brexit have revived and used centuries-old, culturally constructed patterns of national stereotyping and how these have been actualized and instrumentalized in public discourse and political debate.
A fuller descripton and programme is online here.
The bibliography is being completed and updated on an ongoing basis, and older publications are also being worked in by assistant Eva Schouten. We are now nearing the benchmark of 3000 titles and trust an initial completion will have been achieved by the end of the year.