American Exceptionalism and National Identity
University of Virginia
APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper
Historians are generally hostile to the idea of “American exceptionalism.” The history of American exceptionalist discourse, however, illuminates an ongoing process of identity-formation as Americans have sought to determine the place of their nation in the larger world. This paper focuses on the provincial Anglo-American sources of exceptionalist discourse and emphasizes Britain’s continuing centrality to national identity through the nineteenth century. Though the debate over who “we” are will never be definitively resolved, the debate itself is vitally important in sustaining the legitimacy and capacity of the regime.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 28working papers series
Date posted: August 1, 2011 ; Last revised: August 18, 2011
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