Official and Unofficial Symbols: A Reconsideration of "Imagined Communities"

When and Where

Wednesday, February 15, 2023 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm
CG 265
Canadiana Gallery
14 Queen's Park Crescent West, Toronto, ON M5S 3K9


Alison Dundes-Renteln


This is a free event, however, registration is required.

Despite the contention that claims about national identity may at times be rejected as overgeneralizations, this paper revisits the question of what role national symbols play in the twenty-first century.  The focus is on symbols officially designated as representations of national identities such as flags as well unofficial symbols such as the mute swan in the United Kingdom.  This study offers a reconsideration of the degree to which cultural constructions can matter for social identities.  Ultimately it offers reflections on the importance of visual culture for legal studies as part of the field of sensational jurisprudence.

About Alison Dundes Renteln

Alison Dundes Renteln is a Professor of Political Science and Anthropology at the University of Southern California where she teaches Law and Public Policy with an emphasis on international law and human rights. She has received several awards for teaching, research, and mentoring, including the Raubenheimer Award in fall 2022.Her publications focus on international human rights, particularly cultural rights.Professor Renteln has published two single-authored books (one by Oxford University Press), two coauthored books (Cambridge University Press), and six coedited volumes (one in its second edition). 

For decades Renteln has taught judges, lawyers, court interpreters, jury consultants, and police officers at professional meetings in the U.S. and abroad. She collaborated with the UN on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, lectured on comparative legal ethics at ABA-sponsored conferences in Asia, and served on a California committee of Human Rights Watch.Renteln served on several civil rights commissions. In 2020 she was elected a member of the Board of Trustees for the Law and Society Association and appointed to the California State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In 2022 she was invited to join the Interdisciplinary Adjudication Committee of the Canada Research Council. A member of the American Political Science Association, Renteln chaired the APSA Committee on Professional Ethics, Rights, and Freedoms (2019-2021). She is a member of the American Anthropological Association, American Society of International Law, Council on Foreign Relations, International Law Association (American Branch) and is a member of the Board of Directors, ILA International Committee on Global Governance of Cultural Heritage, Law and Society Association, Human Rights Advocates, Coalition for Science and Human Rights of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities, and Commission on Legal Pluralism. She also serves on the Advisory Committee of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology.

A light lunch will be served at 12:00pm in the Centre Lounge, 2nd floor of the Canadiana Gallery. 

Please note that the location does not have a working elevator. If you are a person with a disability and require accommodation, please contact us at and we will do our best to make appropriate arrangements.


14 Queen's Park Crescent West, Toronto, ON M5S 3K9