Flying the flag: Critical perspectives on symbolism and identity

Flags have a long history in Asia and Europe. With military, religious, signalling and national uses to the fore, and more recently commercial and advertising uses, they have become a truly globalised phenomenon, a ubiquitous presence throughout out the modern world. They have even made their way into outer space.

However, the meaning of flags depends to a great extent on local and historical context: there is no generic ‘flag' or way of using flags. They can bring people together or sunder them, send straightforward messages or communicate the subtlest of complicated polysemic meanings, inspire love or loathing, and summon up the sacred and the profane, all with equal facility. The same flag can bear many different messages.

Other than from the descriptive historical perspective of heraldry, there are few analytical studies of flags. This seminar will bring together social scientists and historians to develop the beginnings of a shared analytical framework for understanding the many ways in which flags are used and the different connotations and implications that flags have in the modern world. The emphasis will be on detailed case studies informed by theoretical arguments and models. This will allow for comparative insights into a complex aspect of modernity.

The interdisciplinary workshop, organised by Cultural Complexity and the University of Sheffield, brings together some of the world's greatest authorities on flags and identity.

Please click on links for conference programme, for abstracts and papers and for the summary of the conference (in Norwegian)


A limited number of places are available for people who wish to take part. A nominal fee of NOK 300 covers lunches and refreshments.

You can also sign up for a three course dinner in the Lysebu Conference Centre's restaurant on 24 November which costs NOK 400 in addition to the conference fee*.

The registration deadline was. The registration service has been closed October 1

Published May 25, 2011 1:34 PM - Last modified Jan. 12, 2012 12:04 PM