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Britishness, Identity and Citizenship

The View From Abroad


Edited By Catherine McGlynn, Andrew Mycock and J.W. McAuley

This volume is an exciting contribution to debates about identity and citizenship both in the UK and elsewhere. By examining the view from abroad, through popular cultural transmission, education, and travel and migration, the transnational nature of Britishness and the political and cultural dynamism of the concept and its contemporary relevance becomes apparent. The multi-layered relationships uncovered in this work have historically shaped both the transmission and reception of Britishness and continue to do so. The international group of contributors, from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, synthesise contemporary and historical debates about Britishness to offer a vital breadth to a debate that is becoming increasingly narrow and introspective in the UK.


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Section Two - Representing Britishness: Culture and Identity -113


Section Two Representing Britishness: Culture and Identity Meenakshi Sharma 6 The Empire of English and Its Legacy: A Citizenship of the Mind No attempt at defining or understanding English/British identity and culture can really be considered complete if it is limited to the viewpoint of the residents of the British Isles. Representations by ‘others’ and from outside the framework of the national culture have not been given much attention in existing debates around English/British identity and culture. The view from outside, and especially of those who were part of the Brit- ish empire as colonial subjects, provides an important perspective to these definitions. In Englishness: Politics and Culture, 1880–1920, Robert Colls and Philip Dodd admit that an account of ‘what the Empire or a part of it, thought of the English’ would have made their treatment of the idea of Englishness more complete.1 The centuries of imperial expansion had great significance in the cultural self-constitution and self-representation for the British; in Robert Young’s words, ‘colonialism, in the British example, was not simply a marginal activity on the edges of English civilisation, but fundamental in its own cultural self-representation’.2 Dodd regards the ‘ability to represent both itself to others and those others to themselves’ as characteristic of ‘the dominant version of Englishness’ that was author- ized during the emergence of the idea towards the end of the nineteenth century and in the early years of the twentieth century.3 At the same time, colonialism and imperialism brought other peoples around the...

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