Transnational productions of Englishness: South Africa in the post-imperial metropole

Laura Chrisman

in Postcolonial Contraventions

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print March 2003 | ISBN: 9780719058271
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700136 | DOI:
Transnational productions of Englishness: South Africa in the post-imperial metropole

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The transformation of English national identity began with Margaret Thatcher's 1979 government. The contemporary production of Englishness became, and continues to be, labour intensive, because England had lost the material foundation of that identity. The recently reformulated Englishness, variously referred to as ‘the new racism’ or ‘Thatcherism’, equates national community with the white race. This nationalist discourse eschews the openly racist language of biological superiority and uses, instead, the more coded language of cultural difference, to promote an English nation that is culturally homogeneous and exclusively white. The diasporic and postcolonial perspectives respectively contribute in important ways to the analysis of post-imperial Englishness. The element of cultural identity that emerges from this chapter contains both the element of Gilroy's xenophobia and that of Huggan's neo-colonial paternalism. The chapter concludes by addressing the impact of the contemporary liberation movement, and explores the historical relationship.

Keywords: English national identity; post-imperial Englishness; racism; Thatcherism; cultural identity; neo-colonial paternalism; white race

Chapter.  7087 words. 

Subjects: Colonialism and Imperialism

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