In his book "Imagined Communities," social theorist Benedict Anderson discusses the nation as an imagined social structure. While nations are real in that they exist as geopolitical entities, the ideas of "national character" and generalized connections between citizens are imagined, rather than "true" connections. Anderson highlights that the power of these imagined communities creates the conditions necessary for racism, nationalism, social division, and war. This group of objects highlights the defined connections between constructions of masculinity and national identity, evidencing how the nation embeds itself into gendered ways of communicating and being.
These objects range from critiques of the American past to wholesale celebrations of American militarism, displaying both the sorrow and triumph that the nation generates. How does national identity shape the lives of individuals, groups, and social structures? Is it possible to be "a man" in America without being an "American man?"
Gerrit A. Beneker The Past is Behind Us, The Future is Ahead. Let Us All Strive to Make the Future Better and Brighter than the Past Ever Was. 1918 color lithograph | paper Gift of Mr. Maurice F. Lyons 1954/2.35.6
David Turnley Gulf War, Iraq, from "Detroit Focus 2000" 1991 black and white photograph | paper Gift of Detroit Focus 2000, and partial purchase with funds from the Jean Paul Slusser Memorial Fund 2003/2.69.36