Fluttering the Past in the Present. The Role of Flags in the Contemporary Society: Law, Politics, Identity and Memory

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


As we advance into the twenty-first century, more and more of what has once been crucial to the functioning of a society, slides into oblivion. However, certain agents of the past, carriers of social memory, prevail. One such an agent is the flag. More than just a mere symbol, the flag bears an opulent amount of meaning, sometimes accumulated over the centuries, at other times acquired overnight, evoking either love and pride, fear and contempt, or just indifference. The purpose of this paper is to analyse flags as carriers of collective memories and of local and national identity, and to compare various legal provisions controlling and protecting them. In the first part of the paper, the author introduces the concept of collective memory, showing how flags—carriers of memory—are connected to it. The second part of the paper is devoted to the questions of identity and national identity, and the ways they intersect with collective memories and, ultimately, flags. In the third, main part of the paper, the author ventures to examine the role of flags in the contemporary society. Applying the findings of the previous two chapters to a number of mini-case studies (Poland, Brazil, Australia, Greece, USA, various former USSR territories, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Hungary, Cyprus and Canada), the author shows how different societies hold different attitudes towards flags and how, even in a digital society we currently live in, such a material thing as a flag is vital for the creation of a group’s identity, and can still evoke deep and often completely conflicting feelings, even leading to conflict.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFlags, Color, and the Legal Narrative
Subtitle of host publicationPublic Memory, Identity, and Critique
EditorsAnne Wagner, Sarah Marusek
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9783030328658
ISBN (Print)9783030328641
Publication statusPublished - 25 May 2021

Publication series

NameLaw and Visual Jurisprudence
ISSN (Print)2662-4532
ISSN (Electronic)2662-4540


  • flags
  • collective memory
  • identity
  • politics
  • social memory
  • national identity
  • contemporary society
  • attitudes towards flags


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