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Research Assistant Opportunity

Explaining Variation in National Anthem Types [Research Assistant]

Explaining Variation in National Anthem Types

Professor Harris Mylonas

The Project: The contemporary Romanian national anthem employs a prototypical “Sleeping Beauty” trope of the re-awakening of a nation, essentializing the national qualities of a strong and valiant people through mentions of “Roman blood” and a Christian call to arms against barbaric enemies. In contrast to these ethno-cultural musings, some national anthems glorify dynastic rulers and deities. For instance, in different parts of the world from the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia, national anthems are odes to monarchs and addressed to divinity, often with remnants of the practice of divine rule. The new Kyrgyz anthem, written after the collapse of the Soviet Union, epitomizes the liberal values of freedom, liberty, and fortune, celebrating the nation’s “friendship and unity,” with the Kyrgyz land “shining in the rays of consent.” What explains the variation in the content of the myriad national anthems across the world? Under what conditions do countries change their national anthems and adopt new language to express their nationhood? We argue that the initial anthems are a product of the time period and circumstances surrounding the independence of each state. Subsequent changes could be similarly explained by the dominant normative understandings that the nation is facing at critical junctures that provoke the change. Thus, we expect countries that develop their national anthems before modernity encompassed the society are more likely to have a “divine rule” trope. Alternatively, countries that developed their national anthems in opposition to alien and/or colonial rule are more likely to mention race, blood, and the glorification of violence, summarized by the “Sleeping Beauty” trope. Finally, we expect post- Cold War anthems to glorify liberal values, often praising the peaceful nature of the nation’s people, focusing on prosperity and attributes of the land.

Research Assistant Tasks: We want to test our argument against existing explanations from the political science literature. To conduct this test, we are constructing a new dataset that systematically codes national anthems of all countries in the world along more than sixty relevant dimensions–over time. We could use help with the coding (using excel). 

Time Commitment: 4-6 hours per week

Credit Hour Option: Please discuss with your adviser.

Application Instructions: Send me your CV.

Contact Email: mylonas@gwu.edu

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