From October 2016 to June 2, 2017, I participated in the 2016-17 Humanities Dialogues at UCLA, which were a series of meetings aimed at illustrating how
"words/concepts essential to the human experience across cultures have acquired different meanings in different languages due to specific historical, social, political, and cultural contexts."
The dialogues culminated in a final meeting on June 2, 2017; I presented a condensed and translated (into English) version of research project I'm working on in a directed research class with Senior Lecturer in the French & Francophone Studies Department at UCLA, Prof. Laurence Denié-Higney, with the English title, "Patriotism, Symbolism, and Political Semiotics in France."
The presentation examined the ways in which former French presidential candidate of the right-wing political party FN, Marine Le Pen, used language with deeply encoded myth-signifiers alluding to an imperiled France threatened by Islamic fundamentalists and weak, liberal politicians.
Some Key Points
For the purposes of the presentation, I used the following provisional definition of patriotism,
a socially constructed conceptual device and apparatus that forms a fictive (i.e. invented, imagined, yet socially real) bond between an aspect of one’s identity and an imagined geographical boundary.
When we apply political semiotics to a medium, we essentially look to uncover how various kinds of power-relations are embodied, represented, and signified in a given text as they arise over time.
Diversity of Presentations
I was moved, intrigued, and challenged by the other presenters who discussed topics ranging from heroism, to humanity, to pride. My friend Anna N. presented on child labor, and I was shocked to see footage of the conditions of child precious-mineral miners in Africa.
I'm very much encouraged by the quality of questions and engagement that students at UCLA are asking.