Nationalism and Regionalism: Northwest Indiana

The first thing I would like to talk about is under the subject of nationalism with Michael Billig’s “Banal Nationalism.” Banal Nationalism includes everyday events or items that communicate the nation to citizens, also called ‘flagging.’ These omnipresent notions of the nation can take several forms. They can be things like official letterheads, flags, and stamps. In terms of linguistics, politicians will use words like ‘we’ and ‘us’ in speeches to remind the people of the nation. The other subject I would like to discuss is under the subject of regionalism. Anssi Paasi suggests three different ways to understand regions in geographical scholarship. The first is a pre-scientific perspective, which essentially treats regions as a spatial unit for data collection and organization. This doesn’t take into account a region’s history. The second perspective is discipline-centered, where regions are the product of academic socialization and power and knowledge relations. This essentially means that regions are created through academic processes based on geographical relationships. Through academic research, knowable regions are created as divisions of the state. New spatial imaginaries are developed through this research and it may change some political realities. The final perspective is the critical perspective, which states that regions are social constructs. They are expressions of constant struggle over the meanings associated with space, representation, democracy, and welfare. The authors Painter and Jeffrey make the connection with Benedict Anderson’s idea of “imagined communities” and translates it into “imagined territories,” meaning that regions are the product of social effects and have, associated with the region, a sort of power.

The above two concepts combine into a problem that I deal with when I am home: where I live in Northwest Indiana is a part of the Chicagoland area. The reason why I believe this is because where I live we get Chicago news and advertisements. My county, Lake County, is among the two or three counties of the state where we have to get emissions testing like those counties in Illinois that are near Chicago. It only takes me an hour to get into Chicago by car, and I can even take the South Shore train to get to downtown Chicago. On the other side of the argument, I am not in Illinois, which is the first point people tell me when they disagree with me. A second point, although I heavily disagree with those that say this, is that because I take the South Shore train, and not Chicago’s public transit, to get to downtown Chicago, I cannot be a part of the Chicagoland area. Essentially, I am arguing using the main idea of banal nationalism that the advertisements and news are reminders of being so close to, and a part of, Chicagoland. Using the critical perspective of regionalism, a region is socially constructed, and the fact that the Chicagoland area is a socially constructed region with the power to cause a government outside of Illinois to participate in emissions testing. To me, it is obvious that where I live is close enough for me to say I live in Chicagoland.

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