Posting nationalism: Postage stamps as carriers of nationalist messages

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Items like coins, banknotes and political posters have been regarded as useful sources for research on the diffusion of nationalist messages. In contrast, postage stamps have been largely ignored for such purpose. My hypothesis is, stamps are “carriers” of an official national imaginary about the history, features, composition and development of the issuing nation. A first section of the paper develops this argument by presenting some key features and paradoxes of stamps, explaining how states manage and intervene in stamp design, and presenting a typology of messages about the nation that can be found on them. A second section will test my arguments by means of both a synchronic and a diachronic comparison. The first uses a sample of stamps issued by Germany on two contrasting periods (Nazi vs. Federal Republic) to find how the political and ideological changes were presented. The second comparison utilizes a sample of stamps issued by Spain and Mexico to commemorate 500 years of the arrival of Columbus to the American continent. It analyzes if, and how, those stamps offer contrasting visions regarding an episode that is so crucial for the national narratives of each
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBeyond Imagined Uniqueness
Subtitle of host publicationNationalisms in Contemporary Perspectives
EditorsJoan Burbick, William Glass
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge Scholars
ISBN (Print)9781443824095
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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