Imagined as us-American:
Patriotic Music, Religion, and Violence Post-9/11
Kwon is an Assistant Professor of Moral Theology and Ethics at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. Dr. Kwon received his Ph.D. in Theological Ethics from Boston College in 2018 where he worked with Rev. Kenneth Himes, Lisa Cahill, and Stephen Pope. He also holds an MBA and degrees in social work and social policy, and draws on his education and professional experience in these fields in his work as a social ethicist. Dr. Kwon's primary areas of teaching and research include the ethics of war and peace, immigration ethics, environmental ethics, health care ethics, and, more recently, business ethics, all of which he approaches from a global perspective. He is currently working up his dissertation, entitled Jus Post Bellum: Human Security and Political Reconciliation, for publication.
Author: David Kwon
Title: "Imagined as us-American: Patriotic Music, Religion, and Violence Post-9/11"
Journal: Socio-Historical Examination of Religion and Ministry
Journal Issue: Volume 2, Number 1
Date: Spring 2020
With the common correlation of the patriotic music community to “America,” country music after 9/11, in many respects, could be seen as a site for the reinforcement and construction of American national identity. This article particularly explores the use of country music in the United States to represent and create a political ideology of “imagined” national identity in the time period between September 11, 2001 and the invasion of Iraq in the Spring of 2003. However, the nation, as imagined in these country song lyrics, has very specific dimensions. It is not just any nation. It is perceived (and valued, for that matter) as justifiably aggressive. It is a Christian nation defined in opposition to the Islamic “other.” This targeted racial and religious group is not just an outside foreign “other” but a heavily stigmatized foreigner from within their own country. The mapping of these particular concepts of nation and religion onto mainstream country music constitutes its primary imagined identity.
Keywords: Patriotic Music, Country Music, Iraq War, Nationalism, Imagined National Identity, Religion, Violence, Post-9/11
(footnote) David Kwon, “Imagined as us-American: Patriotic Music, Religion, and Violence Post-9/11,” Socio-Historical Examination of Religion and Ministry 2, no. 1 (Spring 2020): 96‒120, https://doi.org/10.33929/sherm.2020.vol2.no1.05.
(bibliography) Kwon, David. “Imagined as us-American: Patriotic Music, Religion, and Violence Post-9/11.” Socio-Historical Examination of Religion and Ministry 2, no. 1 (Spring 2020): 96‒120. https://doi.org/10.33929/sherm.2020.vol2.no1.05.
Kwon, David. “Imagined as us-American: Patriotic Music, Religion, and Violence Post-9/11.” Socio-Historical Examination of Religion and Ministry, vol. 2, no. 1, Spring 2020, doi.org/10.33929/sherm.2020.vol2.no1.05, pp. 96‒120.
Kwon, D. (2020). Imagined as us-American: Patriotic Music, Religion, and Violence Post-9/11. Socio-Historical Examination of Religion and Ministry, 2(1), 96‒120. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.33929/sherm.2020.vol2.no1.05.
Altman, Rick. The American Film Musical. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987.
Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Rev. ed. New York: Verso Books, 2006.
Bankoff, Greg. “Regions at Risk: Western Discourse on Terrorism and the Significance of Islam.” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 26, no. 1 (2003): 413‒28. https://doi.org/10.1080/10576100390242929.
Billboard. “Artist Chart History – Aaron Tippin.” Accessed February 20, 2020. https://www.billboard.com/music/aaron-tippin/chart-history/HSI/song/410042.
Billboard. “Artist Chart History – Alan Jackson.” Accessed February 20, 2020. https://www.billboard.com/music/alan-jackson/chart-history/HSI/song/412316.
Billboard. “Artist Chart History – Darryl Worley.” Accessed February 20, 2020. https://www.billboard.com/music/darryl-worley/chart-history/HSI/song/431284.
Billboard. “Artist Chart History – David Ball.” Accessed February 20, 2020. https://www.billboard.com/music/david-ball/chart-history/HSI/song/407818.
Billboard. “Artist Chart History – Lee Greenwood.” Accessed February 20, 2020. https://www.billboard.com/music/lee-greenwood/chart-history/HSI/song/2188.
Billboard. “Artist Chart History – Toby Keith.” Accessed February 20, 2020. https://www.billboard.com/music/toby-keith/chart-history/HSI/song/420169.
Billboard Staff Report. “Tragic Events Commemorated with Concerts, Videos and Silence.” Billboard, September 7, 2002.
Brummett, Barry. Rhetoric in Popular Culture. 5th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2018.
Buckley, John. “Country Music and American Values.” In All that Glitters: Country Music in America, edited by George H. Lewis. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1993.
Christensen, Karen, and David Levinson, eds. Encyclopedia of Community: From the Village to the Virtual World. vol. 3. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2003.
Click, Melissa A. and Michael W. Kramer. “Reflections on a Century of Living: Gendered Differences in Mainstream Popular Songs.” Popular Communication 5, no. 4 (2007): 241‒62.
DeNora, Tia. Music in Everyday Life. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000. https://doi.org/10.1017/cbo9780511489433.
Driscoll, Christopher M. White Lies: Race and Uncertainty in the Twilight of American Religion. New York: Routledge, 2015. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315693088.
Eyerman, Ron. “Music in Movement: Cultural Politics and Old and New Social Movements” in Qualitative Sociology 25, no. 3 (2002): 443‒58.
Flippo, Chet. “Nashville Skyline Presidential Politics and Red-Blue States Debate Linger: Germs and Jesus and Country Music,” CMT News, November 24, 2004. http://www.cmt.com/news/1494154/nashville-skyline-germs-and-jesus-and-country-music/.
Fox, Aaron A. “Alternative to What? O Brother, September 11, and the Politics of Country Music.” In Country Music Goes to War, edited by Charles K. Wolfe and James E. Akenson, 164‒91. Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky, 2007.
Gengaro, Christine Lee. “Requiems for A City: Popular Music’s Response to 9/11.” Popular Music and Society 32, no. 1 (2009): 25‒36. https://doi.org/10.1080/03007760802191508.
Godsil, Rachel D., Jessica MacFarlane, and Brian Sheppard. “Pop Culture, Perceptions, and Social Change: A Research Review.” #PopJustice 3, no. 4 (2016): 1‒34.
Hanson, Ralph E. Mass Communication: Living in a Media World. Boston, MA: McGraw Hill, 2018.
Harvey, Paul. Bounds of Their Habitation: Race and Religion in American History. New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2016.
Hay, Carla. “Acts Line up On Both Sides of War Debate.” Billboard, March 22, 2003.
“Hot Country Singles and Tracks.” Billboard. From September 29, 2001 to May 17, 2003.
Johnson, Alan G., ed. Blackwell Dictionary of Sociology: A User’s Guide to Sociological Language. 2nd ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2000.
Lewis, George H. Lap Dancer or Hillbilly Deluxe? The Cultural Constructions of Modern Country Music. Journal of Popular Culture 31, no. 3 (1997): 163‒73. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0022-3840.1997.3103_163.x.
Matula, Theodore. “Pow! to the People: The Make‐Up’s Reorganization of Punk Rhetoric.” Popular Music and Society 30, no. 1 (2007): 19‒38. http://doi.org/10.1080/03007760500453127.
Palmisano, Joseph M. World of Sociology. Farmington Hills, MI: The Gale Group, 2001.
Petracca, Michael F., and Madeleine Sorapure. Common Culture: Reading and Writing about American Popular Culture. 5th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2007.
Pruitt, Lesley. “Real Men Kill and a Lady Never Talks Back: Gender Goes to War in Country Music.” International Journal on World Peace 24, no. 4 (2006): 85‒106.
Purnell, Kim L. “Listening to Lady Day: An Exploration of the Creative (Re)Negotiation of Identity Revealed in the Life Narratives and Music Lyrics of Billie Holiday.” Communication Quarterly 50, no. 3/4 (2002): 444‒66.
Quay, Sarah E. and Amy M. Damico. September 11 in Popular Culture: A Guide. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2010.
Rossman, Gabriel. “Elites, Masses, and Media Blacklists: The Dixie Chicks Controversy.” Social Forces 83, no. 1 (2004): 61‒79. http://doi.org/10.1353/sof.2004.0123.
Rudder, Randy. “In Whose Name? Country Artists Speak Out on Gulf War II.” In Country Music Goes to War, edited by Charles K. Wolfe and James E. Akenson, 208‒26. Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky, 2007.
Simons, Herbert W. “From Post-9/11 Melodrama to Quagmire in Iraq: A Rhetorical History.” Rhetoric and Public Affairs 10, no. 2 (2007): 183‒94.
Smith, Kathleen E. R. God Bless America: Tin Pan Alley Goes to War. Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky, 2003.
Stewart, Charles J., Craig Allen Smith, and Robert E. Denton. Persuasion and Social
Movements. 6th ed. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, 2007.
Taylor, Timothy D. Music and Capitalism: A History of the Present. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2016. https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226312026.001.0001.
Toft, Monica Duffy, Daniel Philpott, and Timothy Samuel Shah. God’s Century: Resurgent Religion and Global Politics. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2011.
“Top Country Singles Sales.” Billboard. From October 1, 2001 to May 3, 2002.
Stark, Phyllis, and Deborah Evans. “Upfront.” Billboard, May 3, 2003.van Dijck, José “Record and Hold: Popular Music between Personal and Collective Memory.” Critical Studies in Media Communication 23, no. 5 (2006): 357‒74. http://doi.org/10.1080/07393180601046121.
Van Sickel, Robert W. “A World Without Citizenship: On (the Absence of) Politics and Ideology in Country Music Lyrics, 1960‒2000.” Popular Music and Society 28, no. 3 (2005): 313‒31.
Willman, Chris. Rednecks and Bluenecks: The Politics of Country Music. New York: The New Press, 2005.