It is well established ethnographically that history is a particularly important and celebrated aspect of Icelandic identity. Paraphrasing Hastrup, it could be argued that Icelandic culture is a culture of the past. The collapse in Iceland in 2008 problematised this valorisation of history. In this paper we draw on Carrithers’ ideas of cultural rhetoric to analyse how Icelanders made sense of the collapse particularly in relation to their understanding of their own history. Following Johnson, we look at the play of agency, intention and responsibility evident in the accounts offered for the collapse. Through that we seek to highlight how these accounts, even when highly critical of Icelandic political and cultural practices, tend to allow for and even encourage the on-going identification with the nation-form.
- cultural rhetoric
- culture of history