Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

What Makes Us Feel We Belong to Our Homeland?

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

What Makes Us Feel We Belong to Our Homeland?

Article excerpt

These Englands: A Conversation on National Identity

Editors: Arthur Aughey and Christine Berberich

Edition: First

Publisher: Manchester University Press

Pages: 256

Price: Pounds 60.00 and Pounds 14.99

ISBN: 9780719079603 and 9610

A recent essay on the poetry of U.A. Fanthorpe led me to explore the growing critical literature on Englishness, and These Englands is a welcome addition to this field. This genuinely cross-disciplinary collection contains essays by scholars of politics, literature, sociology and social psychology. If politics essays are numerically dominant, this should not deter readers from other disciplines. The book is prefaced by Krishan Kumar, whose book The Making of English National Identity (2003) has been influential. Arthur Aughey and Christine Berberich then provide a useful introduction, promoting "Englishness as conversation" and offering a valuable overview of significant political, literary and cultural writings on England and the English.

Part One, "Englishness in discourse and opinion", opens with Susan Condor's exploration of English national self-identification via the methodology of research interviews, with interviewee confusion about self- defining as English or British much in evidence. John Curtice discusses English identity in the light of the devolved Scottish and Welsh parliaments. Paul Thomas considers the meaning of Englishness for non- white people and asks whether it is possible to pursue more inclusive non- racial understandings of Englishness. Identifying as "British" has, for many from ethnic minorities, been the national affiliation of choice, raising the question of the extent to which "being English" is equated with "being white". Christopher Bryant engages with what he calls "utopian realism" to consider contemporary England and its future via theories of cosmopolitanism.

Part Two focuses on "Englishness in politics and institutions". Stephen Ingle charts the link between the Conservatives and Englishness from Edmund Burke to David Cameron, while Matthew Beech considers Englishness and the Left. Simon Lee's argument is that Gordon Brown's tenure as chancellor and prime minister concentrated on the modernisation of Britain to the negation of England as a political community. Philip Norton discusses the Englishness of the Westminster parliament and Colin Copus considers Englishness and local government. …

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