Bristishness and Otherness: an Argument. Linda Colley.

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Article/Book Review Bristishness and Otherness: An Argument. Linda Colley. Historian, Gwyn Williams (1979) : “The British nation and the British state are clearly entering a process of dissolution… Britain has began its long march out of history” Throughout this article, Linda Colley is experimenting with the idea that Britain is rapidly subjecting itself to a four nation’s model through history of tension, concepts of ‘Britishness’ – we don’t distinguish ourselves by what we are, but what we are not *- and the need for the threat of the Other. She also implies that Britishness was invented on the back of religion, war (especially with France) and the fear of the Other. When referring to the Other through this article, Colley is suggesting that Great Britain contains her sense of unity and pride when in the eye of external threat, i.e the second Hundred Years War with France. Colley then goes on to explore how the fear of the Other has been alive in Britain from 1707 right up until the 1940’s, through its aggressively and successfully imperialistic* history. Linda Colley skillfully engages her reader with the example of George MaCartney who is awaiting an audience with the emperor of China, in a bid to show off British manufactured goods; however he and his companions are rudely insulted by the emperor. It is this insult that sparks the reactions of these men and gives Linda Colley her evidence for the claim that the fear of the Other brings about unity on grounds of nothing but geography: In the presence of an alien and contemptuous culture, they felt all of a sudden intensely British, brought together, almost despite themselves, by confrontation with the Other* The article then pushes away from the story to explore and identify other moments in history when Britain was united or pulled apart to create the sense of a four nations model,
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