We want…a nation at ease with itself.
A national culture is not a folk-lore, nor an abstract populism that believes it can discover a people’s true nature. A national culture is the whole body of efforts made by a people in the sphere of thought to describe, justify and praise the action through which that people has created itself and keeps itself in existence.
Perhaps, instead of thinking of identity as an accomplished fact, which the new cultural practices then represent, we should think, instead, of identity as a ‘production’ which is never complete, always in process, and always constituted with, not outside, representation.
The essay reprinted below entitled ‘Digging for Britain’ (elsewhere referred to as DFB) was first published in the catalogue for The British Edge, an exhibition and events programme, mounted in the autumn of 1987 at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachussets. 1 DFB looks at how different, often contradictory myths of ‘Britishness’ are constructed, lived and represented in contemporary British society, how they circulate as sounds and images, signs and narratives in popular culture, and how they themselves are regularly used in various combinations to ‘interpellate’ (call up and hold in place) different ‘imaginary communities’ (Anderson 1983) round the larger image of the nation or the ‘national interest’. The Thatcher years