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Time for an optimistic Englishness

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The politics of Englishness has never been satisfactorily resolved. Through the activities of the far right domestically, the rise of Scottish nationalism, and constitutional and economic changes in the EU and beyond, political Englishness is increasingly likely to assert itself. Idealised and instrumental notions of Englishness have been inadequate to the task of defining a real and grounded national identity. Equally, a purely relativistic notion of national identity that relies on the thin symbols of allegiance will be incoherent. Learning from the example of the development of a Scottish optimistic nationalism there is a need for a political dialogue around the fixed, contested, and fluid aspects of Englishness. Such a dialogue will be civic, cultural, constitutional, and will also consider the offer of English citizenship. To fail in this endeavour would be to leave a vacuum which would be filled by antagonistic political forces. That fate can be avoided.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-11-24

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