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Common sense

A lot of nonsense is talked about English identity, nevertheless it does exist and can, up to a point, be defined

By Antony Easthope   December 1998

Most of what is written about nationality consists of vague waffle. Everyone feels entitled to sound off about the “crisis of English identity” but not many have ever glanced at the various studies of the nation written over the past 20 years-by Tom Nairn, Anthony Smith, Benedict Anderson and others.

During the miners’ strike in 1984 I went to a Chile Solidarity meeting. Chilean exiles wore national costume, danced national dances and sang national songs. It made me wonder what I could do to express my Englishness if I was ever exiled. No national costume (pinstripe and bowler hat?), no…

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