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From Coal to Brexit: on cultural-economic loss and the heating of identity politics in precarious Doncaster

Wednesday 10 June 2020, 4.00PM to 5.15pm

Speaker(s): Cathrine Thorleifsson

In this talk I explore the local set of conditions central to the rise of UKIP and Brexit vote in the white-majority, working-class town of Doncaster. Based on anthropological fieldwork, archival research and face to face interviews with supporters of the populist, radical right i 2015, I challenge scholarship that claim that the rise of the populist, radical right are primarily caused by recent cultural grievances over immigration.

Applying an anthropological historical perspective, I suggest that the current nationalist-populist conjuncture is forged in the processes of longer histories and memories where culture and economic production intertwine. I demonstrate how in the space left by the dissolution of industrialism, new competing scale-making projects over meaning, memory and future played out. During fieldwork several of my interlocutors’ nostalgically invoked the lost industrial or imperial past to cope with a precarious present.

Examining the tensions emerging out of the intersection of various scale-making projects, I suggest that the rising appeal of English nationalism cannot be reduced to economic precariousness, nor just the cultural legacies of industrialism, nor to the passage of transition or global migration. It is all of these, which in turn can explain the local support for the protectionist promise of Brexit.

Cathrine Thorleifsson is a senior researcher at the Centre for Research on Extremism at the University of Oslo, Norway.

This seminar will take place on Zoom. In order to join the meeting, input the following details on Zoom:

* Meeting ID: 995 0053 2291
* Password: 188922

Location: Online event