Topic 1. State and Nation
Topic 1. State and Nation
• British Civilisation
> Britain is an imprecise term. Which part of the island ? So the full proper name is « The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland ». As on the map right here :
> What we can call Great Britain is the UK minus the Northern Ireland :
> So the UK is composed of countries, it's a country made of countries... Weird ? So another term for that ? → State. A state is « an autonomous political entity with its own government ». It needs a territory (a land we can see on a map), political institutions, and an international recognition (you can be recognized as a member of a state for example, passport). In federal regime like in USA, USA is a state, but its subdivisions too (ex : Texas state).
> So is the UK a state ? They have Westminster, the UK parliament, and the other things mentioned earlier are okay too. So yes, the UK is a state.
> Is England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland a state ? No. They don't have the autonomy and the international recognition.
> So the UK is a state made of... ?
→ Nation ? It's much more subjective. A nation is « an imagined community » according to Benedict Anderson. It's a feeling of community. Feel to be a part of the same country. « A rich legacy of memories », « the desire to live together » (Ernest Renan). A nation has to have some things in common : it could be anything, common language, religion, history, culture, values,... Or even all of them. For example, France is a nation-state. The UK has a common language, but the 4 component parts are 4 separated communities, 4 « Home nations ». UK is not a nation state : it's a state including 4 nations, so a multinational state or supranational state.
• National Symbols
> The English flag is the Union Jack (1801). It's a flag composed of the England's flag (St George's cross), the Scotland's flag (St Andrew's cross) and the Northern Ireland's flag (St Patrick's cross). The Wales' flag is not a part of it. In 1950 Ireland separated in 2 parts : they now have 2 different flags. Things have changed but the UK's flag stayed the same.
England is symbolized by a rose, Scotland by a thistle (chardon), Wales by a leek (poireau) or a daffodil, and Northern Ireland by a flax (fleur de lin). For example the Supreme Court's symbol is a combination of these symbols :
Other symbols : Britannia (on 50 pence for example), John Bull (country farmer, wealthy, arrogant), and the Monarch (“God save the Queen” is focused on a monarch).
• Anglo-Saxons and the “Celtic Fringe”
> Neolithic settlement : Stonehenge 2500 BC.
> Celts from 800 BC. > Romans 48 AD-5th C. (Julius Caesar and Roman Britain, Hadrian's Wall 122 AD).
> Angles, Saxons, Jutes 5th-7th
> Language. People speak English. But in Ireland some people speak Celtic, in Scotland and Wales a little % of the population speak their own language.
> Geography. Population is concentrated in the richer areas. The biggest cities are in England. There is 62 million inhabitants in the UK : 52m in England, 5m in Scotland, 3m in Wales, and 2m in Northern Ireland. There is a strong dominance of England, which is so much bigger.
• Multinational and multiethnic
> 10% of the population is non-white : 2m of “Asian”, 500,000 of West Indian and some other minorities. Principally immigrants from former UK's colonies.
> Race and national identity. For some England is the country of only pure English (“England, land of the English”), for others England has an historical diversity “The British are not a race, but a gathering of countless difference races and communities” (Robin Cook, 2001, Labour Party).
BOOK : Chapter 1 : The UK, esp. pages 6-13
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