Soldered states

Nation-building in Germany and Vietnam

Claire Sutherland
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This book examines nation-building ideology in the soldered states of Vietnam and Germany. Official nation-building ideology is understood here as the government-led construction of national identity, memory and history in order to promote an 'imagined community'. This ideology aims to maintain legitimacy within territorial limits, those of the state, and defines the limits of national belonging accordingly. The German and Vietnamese experiences are similar in using regional integration not only to improve their international standing, but also their domestic legitimacy. Comparison of Vietnam and Germany shows that despite contextual disparities, common trends emerge in governments' handling of advantages and obstacles to nation-building. Both soldered states face the same challenge of post-unification state legitimation. Their governments also use both nationalist and regionalist narratives in pursuit of that goal, offering insights into the ideological construction of communities in the context of past, divergent development. In sum, the German and Vietnamese cases have been chosen for their shared experience of national division, communism and participation in regional integration projects, namely the European Union (EU) and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). These themes are examined through empirical examples of nation-building ideology - namely selected cityscapes, museums and textbooks - with an analytical focus on national icons, heroes and myths as nodal points of nation-building.

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