Who Do You Imagine You Are?

Who’s American? Who’s Italian? How about Hungarian, German or Polish? Questions of nationalism and national identity are at the heart of the political changes sweeping Europe and the United States these days.


But what makes a person a member of a particular nation? Identities are always at some level imagined, but what people choose to focus on differs widely from country to country, according to a recent study by Pew Research. A few findings:

  • 52% of Hungarians see place of birth as the most important attribute of national identity, while only 13% of Germans say the same.
  • 84% of Dutch say being able to speak the national language is very important to being truly part of the nation, but only 59% of Italians share this view.
  • 56% of Poles believe sharing national customs and traditions is central to national identity, while just 26% of Swedes agree.
  • In the US, a large majority (70%) believes speaking English is important to being truly American, but only 45% see culture and tradition as a central national attribute.

Defining national identity is tricky enough — creating policy around that is another act entirely. What do you think is the most important criteria for national identity? Share your thoughts and we’ll happily publish a line or two.

On the latest episode of Bank of America's That Made All the Difference podcast, Ken Burns explores the opportunity to come out of this moment as better versions of ourselves — and reveals whether a film about this year is in the cards.

Listen to the new episode here.

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In the days ahead, more details will come to light about why a deadly cache of materials was haphazardly stashed at a port warehouse, and why Lebanon's government failed to secure the site. So, what comes next for crisis-ridden Lebanon?

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280 million: Democratic candidate Joe Biden plans to spend $280 million on campaign ads in his battle against US President Donald Trump. Although Trump trails the former vice president by 7 points in an average of national polls, the incumbent has set aside less than half that amount for ads of his own.

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