“Why would we have that playing at Tennessee?”

Ukraine bans Soviet symbols and criminalises sympathy for communismWhile not aiming to trivialize ongoing conflicts elsewhere in the world, I couldn’t help but make a connection between the above article and a video making the rounds of social media, in which the University of Tennessee’s football coach sniffs out the source of the song “Sweet Home Alabama” playing while his team practices — a song much associated with one of his team’s arch rivals (which, yes, happens to be where I work).

My point is merely to indicate that there’s all sorts of ways to examine how identity is fabricated by means of imposed injunctions and thus limits on difference.

There’s high stakes examples, of course, in which what’s up for grabs is rather more than bragging rights after a US college football game; but sometimes, especially in the classroom, we not only need to work up to these grittier or more emotionally charged examples but also to pair them with something a little more run of the mill or familiar, to illustrate that, no matter the stakes, the same basic social practices are employed to create the impression of homogenous and uniform centers that happen also to be opposing forces.

For the last thing the coach wants to entertain is the ambiguity that comes along with saying “it’s just a song.”

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