Mycock, Andrew (2011) These post-colonial Englands. In: Understanding the Social World Conference 2011, 13th - 15th July 2011, University of Huddersfield. (Unpublished)

The growth of public and academic interest in Englishness has raised important questions about post-colonial England or, as this article contends, Englands. Post-colonialism has traditionally been understood as the critical interrogation of legacies of empire. This has typically encouraged the emergence of narratives and literatures located within emergent post-colonial states and diasporas who have migrated to the former colonising state. In England, post-colonial narratives are plural and reflect distinctive waves of migration of ethno-national and religious groups from across the British Isles and the former empire. Therefore Scottish, Irish and Welsh literatures have been supplemented by emergent narratives emerging from post-war migrant communities. In the past decade or so, some English nationalists have posited new post-colonial narratives that suggest England itself has been victim of colonisation. This is in part motivated by a desire to redress constitutional asymmetries in the wake of the Devolution Acts of 1998 through the formation of an English parliament and, as Billy Bragg argues, allow England to be freed from its ‘unhappy Union’.

This paper seeks to understand and explain how these plural post-colonial narratives define England both in relation to the rest of the United Kingdom and the former empire and Commonwealth. The paper will critically apply theories of nationalism and citizenship in understanding common and distinct dynamics in how England is understood. It will explore the extent to which 'victimhood nationalism' has encouraged a post-colonial Englishness that seeks political expression. The paper will also assess the extent to which the 'post-British' English nation-state overlooks its imperial legacy. The aim of paper is to understand the nature of ‘these post-colonial Englands’ in defining multiple constructions of the English nation-state.

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