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Tradition through modernity : postmodernism…

Tradition through modernity : postmodernism and the nation-state in…

by Pertti J. Anttonen

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When studying social practices that are regarded as traditional, 'tradition' is usually seen as an element of meaning. Whose meaning is it? Is it a meaning generated by those who study tradition or those who are being studied? In both cases, particular criteria for traditionality are employed, whether these are explicated or not. The individuals, groups of people and institutions that are studied may continue to uphold their traditions or name their practices traditions without having to state in analytical terms their criteria for traditionality. This cannot, however, apply to people who make the study of traditions their profession, especially those engaged in the academic field of the 'science of tradition,' a paraphrase given to folklore studies. Traditions call for explanation, instead of being merely described or used as explanations for apparent repetitions, reiterations, replications, continuations or symbolic linking in social practice, values, meaning, culture, and history. In order to explain the concept of tradition and the category of the traditional, scholars must situate its use in particular historically specific discourses -- ways of knowing, speaking, conceptualisation and representation -- in which social acts receive their meanings as traditional. This book argues that since the concepts of tradition and modern are fundamentally modern, what they aim to and are able to describe, report and denote is epistemologically modern, as that which is regarded as non-modern and traditional is appropriated into modern social knowledge through modern concepts and discursive means. Modernity cannot represent non-modernity without modern mediation, which therefore makes the representations of non-modernity also modern. Accordingly, the book deals with the modernness of objectifying, representing and studying folklore and oral traditions. The first section focuses on modern and tradition as modern concepts, and the conception of folklore and its study as a modern trajectory. The second section discusses the politics of folklore with regard to nationalism, and the role of folk tradition in the production of nation-state identity in Finland.… (more)
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