This is the main page for H-Nationalism's series on "Brexit, Nationalism and the Future of Europe," organized by Dr. Brian Girvin of the University of Glasgow (Brian.Girvin@glasgow.ac.uk). Individual posts are available in the table immediately below. Please feel welcome to join in the conversation!
Brexit, Nationalism and the Future of Europe
Thank you to Simon and Brian for your thoughts and questions.
Many thanks to Ben for his response to questions and the ongoing discussion. I am adding some additional information on the attitudes of leave voters and those who identify with English identity (rather than British).
A YouGov survey in February 2017 reported that 53% of leave voters wanted the return of the death penalty. 48% of leave voters also wanted a return to pounds and ounces (rather than metric). 52% wanted a return to dark blue passports (rather than the current machine readable burgundy one). 42% wanted a return to corporal punishment in schools.
Interesting piece. Ben, while you are right that we need to look beyond material grievances and to the role of English nationalism and memory of empire in shaping Brexit, I feel that your analysis opens a number of other questions.
Thank you Brian and Sasa for your comments and questions.
With regard to Sasa's questions, there has been some sociological research into about the idealised 'Britain' or England held by voters (or at least those surveyed, presuming they vote) by Robin Mann and Steve Fenton in 'Nation, Class and Resentment' (Palgrave, 2017). They found that the idealised past was one of an industrial England where communities were sustained by stable employment in heavy industries.
I would certainly agree that conservative nationalism - as described by Brian Girvin - requires more attention and study, in particular since its political impact appears to be greatly increased.
In this respect, it would be interesting (and illuminating, at least for me) to find out what is the idealized Britain to which the mass of leave voters allegedly look back to. Have there been any studies or surveys on this topic? How do we know that this group of people shares a common image or narrative of the past? Where did they get it from?
H-Nationalism is pleased to publish here the second post of its 'Brexit, Nationalism and the Future of Europe' monthly series, which discusses the United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union and its impact on nationalism and the future of Europe in a multidisciplinary perspective. Please feel welcome to add to the discussion by posting a reply. Today's contribution, by Professor Ben Wellings of Monash University, focuses on 'English Nationalism and Brexit'.
Thanks for your comments and question. One of the values of examining Brexit through the lens of nationalism is that it attunes us to the cross-sectional 'alliances' that make something appear 'national'. These alliances can be seen as crossing cleavages of class, party, gender, ethnicity, or even nationality in multi-national states. These alliances become especially clear and important in a device such as a referendum which only needs a simple majority to pass.
Thank you to Dr. Wellings for this excellent post and to Dr. Girvin for putting this important series together. As I read Dr. Wellings's post I found myself wondering about the relationship between the "material grievances" thesis and the "global England" thesis put forward here. I was curious to know whether the appeal of the idea of England as a global power did not rest in part in its ability to speak to the anxieties of those who felt economically left behind.
Many thanks to Dr. Girvin for this excellent opening post of our new Brexit series. It is particularly interesting to read it alongside our roughly simultaneous series on the Left and Nationalism. I'm excited to see future posts and hear any reflections from our subscribers.
Advisory Board Member, H-Nationalism
Assistant Professor of History, University of New Mexico