Eighty Years of "The Lion and the Unicorn": Society and Identity in Great Britain since World War II

Eighty Years of "The Lion and the Unicorn": Society and Identity in Great Britain since World War II

Dr. Almuth Ebke, Universität Mannheim; Dr. Daniel Larsen, University of Cambridge; Dr. Nikolai Wehrs, Universität Konstanz
Universität Konstanz (online via Zoom)
Vom - Bis
11.06.2021 - 12.06.2021
Nikolai Wehrs, FB Geschichte und Soziologie, Lehrstuhl für Zeitgeschichte, Universität Konstanz

Taking the 80th anniversary of the first publication of George Orwell’s famous essay “The Lion and the Unicorn” as a starting point, this workshop will examine discourses of identity and belonging in the United Kingdom since the Second World War.

Eighty Years of "The Lion and the Unicorn": Society and Identity in Great Britain since World War II

In his famous essay “The Lion and the Unicorn” from 1941, Orwell outlined the vision of a reconciliation of democracy, socialism and patriotism. Writing at the height of the Second World War, Orwell prefigured a range of topics which came to represent powerful fault lines in many disputes about social and national identifications in the United Kingdom since 1945: nation versus class, “global Britain” versus “little England”, decolonisation versus multiculturalism, “mass democracy” versus “the Establishment”, among others. By taking these fault lines as entry points, the workshop is interested in the question as to why and in which way “identity” became such an important topic in British academic and public debate since the Second World War.

By focusing on discourses of identity formation, the workshop aims to shift the historiographical perspective away from attempts to explicitly define identity and toward the mechanisms that led to periods of public and political introspection of this subject. On a methodological and theoretical level, this perspective allows to draw conclusions about competing concepts of “identity” itself – a technical term that so far has rarely been understood as a category with its own intellectual history. In order to differentiate the actual analytical utility of popular concepts of belonging such as “Britishness”, “Englishness”, “Scottishness” from their wider political and cultural significance, their intellectual presuppositions must be critically examined.

The workshop will take place online via Zoom. Papers will be pre-circulated. To register, please write to nikolai.wehrs@uni-konstanz.de or aebke@mail.uni-mannheim.de.


All times in CEST

Friday, 11 June, 2021:

10.30 – 11.30 am
Welcome by the organisers / Social gathering in Breakout Rooms
Introduction by Nikolai Wehrs (Konstanz)

11.30 am – 1.00 pm
Keynote by Peter Mandler (Cambridge):
What (and When) Is "National Identity"? The History of an Idea in British Public Discourse since 1945
Introduction & Moderation: Almuth Ebke (Mannheim)

1.00 – 2.00 pm
Lunch break (optional: informal talks in Breakout Rooms)

2.00 – 3.30 pm
Panel I: “England Your England” – National Identity and the Question of Citizenship
Chair: Daniel Larsen (Cambridge)

Stephen E. Foose (Marburg): The British Passport – An Object of Identification between National and Imperial Belonging in England and Jamaica, 1948-1962

Isabelle-Christine Panreck (Dresden): Englishness, Scottishness and Britishness in the Curriculum. How Discourses on National Identity Shape “Citizenship Education” in the UK

Comment: Emily Robinson (Sussex)

3.30 – 4.00 pm
Tea and Coffee (optional: informal talks in Breakout Rooms)

4.00 – 5.30 pm
Panel II: “Empire Builders Reduced to Clerks”? The Experience of Decolonization
Chair: Martin Rempe (Konstanz)

Theo Williams (Durham): Pan-Africanism, George Orwell, and reconciling anti-imperialism with British patriotism

Lena Jur (Marburg): Children of Decolonization – Adoptions of coloured children in the United Kingdom, ca. 1948-1980

Comment: Julia Angster (Mannheim)

6.00 – 7.30 pm
Roundtable: The Orwell factor – British Intellectuals and the issue of collective identity since World War II
Chair: Anja Hartl (Konstanz)
Stefan Collini (Cambridge)
Charlotte Lydia Riley (Southampton)
Peter Stansky (Stanford)

Saturday, 12 June 2021:

9.00 – 10.30 am
Panel III: “The Gentleness of the English Civilization” – Marking National Identity in Popular Culture
Chair: Sven Reichardt (Konstanz)

Sina Schuhmaier (Mannheim): Competing Stories – On the ‘Englishness’ of British Popular Music

Felix Fuhg (Berlin): Made in Britain? National Identity, Transnational Fashion and the Rise of Multiculturalism in the 1960s

Comment: Dietmar Süß (Augsburg)

10.30 – 11.00 am
Tea and Coffee (optional: informal talks in Breakout Rooms)

11.00 am – 12.30 pm
Panel IV: “The English Revolution” – British Democracy, Brexit and the Question of Sovereignty
Chair: Sina Steglich (London)

Mathias Häußler (Regensburg): Little Britain or Great Europe? British attitudes towards EC membership prior to 1973

Robert Saunders (London): "Losing Sovereignty": Democracy and Identity on the Road to Brexit

Comment: Martina Steber (München)

12.30 – 13.00 pm
Final Discussion
Input by Almuth Ebke (Mannheim)