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Selling the Nation: Territorial Identities and the Marketing of Products, Places and Experiences


Admission requirements

Entry test (see Reading List below).


Currently, it is generally acknowledged that national identities are constructed. The process of the construction and diffusion of national identities (or nation-building) has been widely studied by examining the role of state authorities, intellectuals and associations. This way, nation-building was largely presented as a top-down process driven by the political and cultural elites. In this course, we will focus on more commercial actors: those who used national symbols and images to sell products and experiences. Drinks (whisky, wine, beer) and food (typical dishes) were often associated with national or regional territories, while the tourist industry (from Volendam to Disneyland) promoted places and regions by using typical images (traditional costumes and crafts, typical landscapes and buildings, etcetera) to attract visitors. Even industrial products and brands, such as Volkswagen, Chanel or watches (Suisse), became national icons. Obviously, similar processes can be discerned in popular culture and sports.
In this course we will study how and why commercial actors used, adopted and promoted national symbols in order to appeal to a broad public. Some of the topics studied are the role of world fairs, tourism, food and identity and product branding.

Course objectives

Students acquire a thorough knowledge of the commercial use of nationalism in Europe (and across the globe) during the 19th and 20th century. They acquire insights into historiographical controversies in this field, obtain practical experience with analysing primary sources and develop the skills required to present the results of their research.


See here.

Mode of instruction

Research seminar.

Course Load

Total course load 280 hours:

  • Classes 28 hours.

  • Reading compulsory literature 72 hours.

  • Preparing oral presentation and writing paper 180 hours.

Assessment method

  • Entry test (10%)

  • Participation (10%)

  • Oral presentation (10%)

  • Final essay (approximately 7500 words) (70%)


Yes, for literature and discussion.

Reading list

Literature for the entry test held at the first meeting: Tim Edensor, National Identity, Popular Culture and Everyday Life (Oxford & New York, Berg 2002). During the course we will read and discuss a number of additional articles.


via uSis.

Contact information

Email: Dr. H.J. Storm.