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Embodying Britishness: national identity in the United Kingdom

Tranter, B ORCID: 0000-0002-0649-6065 and Donoghue, J 2021 , 'Embodying Britishness: national identity in the United Kingdom' , Nations and Nationalism , doi: 10.1111/nana.12730.

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Some argue that national identity is constructed from the shared myths and ‘collective memories’ of a nation, where heroes from a ‘golden age’ and legendary figures embody national identity. However, when a national sample of British adults were asked to name the most important Britons, living or dead, they did not hark back to legendary figures, military leaders or sporting heroes, but identified their monarch, political leaders, and to a lesser extent, ‘household heroes’ within their own family. ‘Banal’, quotidian political leaders and Queen Elizabeth II symbolise national identity in Britain, although they sit alongside ‘hot’ signifiers of nationalism personified, such as football hero David Beckham. This research suggests that studies of national identity should not be limited to examining essentialist claims of ethnonationalism, or civic attachments to laws and institutions, but also explore those whom the citizens of a given country identify as embodying their national identity.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Tranter, B and Donoghue, J
Keywords: banal nationalism, British, embodiment, national identity, Scottish, sporting heroes
Journal or Publication Title: Nations and Nationalism
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
ISSN: 1354-5078
DOI / ID Number: 10.1111/nana.12730
Copyright Information:

© 2021 Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

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