National lives, local voices: boundaries, hierarchies and possibilities of belonging

Clarke, Amy (2018) National lives, local voices: boundaries, hierarchies and possibilities of belonging. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This thesis is about the boundaries that surround, and hierarchies that structure, Britain’s national community. In contrast to existing work, the research investigates boundaries and hierarchies of belonging through in-depth qualitative enquiry of their (re)production among people for whom national identity is broadly taken-for-granted and unquestioned, that is, Britain’s white middleclasses. How do they imagine Britain as a nation and national community? How do they understand and recognise other people as British (or not), and as belonging (or not) in and/or to Britain? And how do they position differently racialised people in relation to boundaries and hierarchies of belonging?
The thesis draws on data collected over fifteen months in the suburbs of North East London and West Essex, including successive qualitative interviews conducted with twenty-six local residents. It contributes to migration geographies by revealing the narrative power of the white middle-classes in processes of integration and belonging, while also resisting the homogenisation of this group through exploration of some of its diversity. The thesis includes chapters on the extent to which Britain is imagined as a plural nation, on participants’ narratives of local ethnic diversity, everyday interaction and encounter, on markers of belonging and economies of recognition, and on the role of historical imaginaries in reproducing nation.
Overall, the thesis challenges the idea that people can integrate into society in the full and substantive way desired by governments. It provides empirical evidence of the normative whiteness of Britain’s core national imaginary and the markers of Britishness, as well as the significance of the past in shaping understandings of nation and belonging in the present. Meanwhile, by interrogating the national through the local, the research highlights the multi-scalar nature of belongings and adds a suburban perspective to what is a predominantly urban literature on multiculture.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA History of Great Britain > DA020 England > DA120 Ethnography > DA125.A1 Elements in the population. General works. Minorities. Race question
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2018 10:31
Last Modified: 03 May 2019 13:06

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