Brexit, Medievalism, and the Myth of Nations

Elliott, Andrew B.R. (2020) Brexit, Medievalism, and the Myth of Nations. In: Studies in Medievalism XXIX: Politics and Medievalism. Studies in Medievalism (XXIX). Boydell and Brewer, pp. 31-38. ISBN 9781787448957

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Brexit, Medievalism, and the Myth of Nations
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Almost twenty years ago, in The Myth of Nations, Patrick Geary wrote of a crisis of European identity in the fallout from the end of the Cold War. Describing the new contours of Europe amid a turbulent series of revolutions and national conflicts, Geary takes a particularly long view of the emergence of a European identity and the emergence of national consciousness as—in part—a product of the European Middle Ages. Bringing his ideas to bear on the (then contemporary) European conflicts, Geary describes how the new models of national consciousness often unwittingly used medieval ideas of national borders and boundaries to underpin modern concerns about independence, with new nation-states emerging from the wreckage of a twentieth-century reconfiguration of Europe. In the aftermath of the UK’s referendum in June 2016, which resulted in a vote to leave the European Union commonly referred to by the portmanteau “‘Brexit,”’ Geary’s observations seem even more appropriate, and medievalist rhetoric finds itself once again entrenched in political discourse – —especially in their capacity as an imagined longue durée of Selfhood. What this means for the present argument outlined here is that the use of medieval history in the support of individual nationalistic projects is neither new nor original, but often exerts a powerful pull on the ways in which a nation comes to be reimagined, particularly in periods of crisis and upheaval.
This essay will compare Geary’s arguments about national identity with the uses of political medievalisms in the context of the Brexit crisis unfolding between 2016 and the present day.

Keywords:Brexit, Medievalism, political medievalism, Nationalism
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P300 Media studies
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V130 Medieval History
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Film)
ID Code:49004
Deposited On:21 Apr 2022 13:06

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