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'Cry God for Harry, England, and Saint George': Europe and the Limits of Integrating Identity

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Since the early 1990s a dominant modernist narrative has assumed that European integration and the progressive march of secularism, multiculturalism and increased material prosperity would lead to the fading-away of tribal, national, racial and other parochial identities; identities ostensibly incompatible with a meta-national 'European' identity founded not in ethnosymbolic myth, but in cosmopolitanism. This has informed not only academic theory but has also guided 60 years of EU policy making, with Ernst Haas' doctrine of neofunctionalist spill-over dominating European assumptions that a pan-European identity would replace national affiliations. Brexit contradicts this in four ways. First, Brexit demonstrates the renewed appeal of ethnic nationalism on multiple levels: nationalist (British), sub-nationalist (English), and meta-nationalist (white nationalism). Second, Brexit demonstrates shifts in traditional nationalism in the form of gulfs in a neo-medieval society. Third, Brexit demonstrates the existence of multiple and incompatible 'European' identities. Finally, Brexit demonstrates how a specifically EUropean identity can be just as hostile and exclusionary as ethnic nationalism. This reappearance of social discord, ethnosymbolic identities, and the praxis of ethnic identity exemplified by the British, but seen across the EU, necessitates a fundamental reconsideration of the apparently irreversible trends of an unfalsifiable theory of modernist, neofunctionalist progressivism in the form of European integration. Using the British as a case study, this paper argues that the very processes of European integration have, by accelerating antagonistic national and EU identities, inadvertently constructed the apparatus for EUrope's potential disintegration.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 2019

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  • Global Discourse is an interdisciplinary, problem-oriented journal of applied contemporary thought operating at the intersection of politics, international relations, sociology and social policy. The Journal's scope is broad, encouraging interrogation of current affairs with regard to core questions of distributive justice, wellbeing, cultural diversity, autonomy, sovereignty, security and recognition. All issues are themed and aimed at addressing pressing issues as they emerge. Rejecting the notion that publication is the final stage in the research process, Global Discourse seeks to foster discussion and debate between often artificially isolated disciplines and paradigms, with responses to articles encouraged and conversations continued across issues.

    The Journal features a mix of full-length articles, each accompanied by one or more replies, policy papers commissioned by organizations and institutions and book review symposia, typically consisting of three reviews and a reply by the author(s). With an international advisory editorial board consisting of experienced, highly-cited academics, Global Discourse publishes themed issues on topics as they emerge. Authors are encouraged to explore the international dimensions and implications of their work.

    All research articles in this journal have undergone rigorous peer review, based on initial editor screening and double-blind peer review. All submissions must be in response to a specific call for papers.

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