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“O Say Can You See?” Patriotism, Performance, and Sport

Thu, May 25, 19:30 to 21:30, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Floor: 2, Indigo Ballroom B


The tradition of playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before athletic competitions continues at amateur and professional events across the country. What do these public performances of patriotism communicate? How can we understand popular conceptions of citizenship through the anthem’s presentation at sporting events? How does the anthem’s performance serve as the contested ground upon which questions of nationalism, naturalization, belonging, and “home” are actively communicated and negotiated? How can we understand the “boundaries” of citizenship through renditions of--and reactions to--anthem performances that remix, re-arrange, and transcribe it from its “original” form?
This submission creates an interactive exhibition, showcasing a selection of renditions of the anthem. Excerpts from fifteen dynamic performances repeat, encompassing diverse musical genres and performer identities, with an introductory animation explaining the project’s objectives. Interspersed throughout the audio-visual clip, “pop-up” animations feature contextualizing facts and figures pertaining to the anthem and its relationship to American notions of “freedom” and citizenship.