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‘As solid as the Rock’? Place, belonging and the local appropriation of imperial discourse in Gibraltar

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Although imperialism is firmly on the geographical agenda at present, rarely does the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar feature, even though it is the only remaining formal colony in Europe. Seized in 1704, Gibraltar has come to stand as a symbol of British imperial resilience, a status encapsulated by the phrase ‘as solid as the Rock’. The paper explores how such a place-based imperial discourse has served to marginalize the civilian population and yet, paradoxically, has been appropriated locally to articulate a distinctive sense of belonging. More generally, the paper considers how a surviving colony such as Gibraltar, with its apparently loyal population, complicates postcolonial categories, periodizations and assumptions.

Keywords: Gibraltar; analysis; belonging; contemporary imperialism; discourse; postcolonialism place

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London, Surrey TW20 0EX, Email:

Publication date: June 1, 2005


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