Full English

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warumich
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Full English

Post by warumich » Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:46 am

In light of David Lammy's recent adventures in talk radio (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/ ... ot-english), I was wondering wondering about all this myself. You gobby lot will have an opinion I'm sure, so help me out.

Me (from northern Germany*) and my gf (southern France) naturalised some time ago because we don't trust the government. Gf reckons we're now British, I reckon we're British and English. I feel there's some emotional issues there for gf who identifies Englishness with all the worst excesses of nationalism in this country, so she doesn't particularly want to be English anyway.

I actually kind of understand the "we're not English" position, but on the other hand I don't think anyone would have any issues with calling someone Bavarian if they lived most of their life in Munich and naturalised as German. So why would English be different?





* the river Eider in Schleswig-Holstein used to be, in around 3-400 AD, the boundary between the tribes of the Angles and the Saxons, before some of them took to their boats and established a settler colony on some god-forsaken island somewhere. There's an island on that river on which king Offa of the Angles (after whom centuries later the king of Mercia would be named, the one with the dyke) fought a legendary battle against two Saxon princes from the south. That island was later fortified with a castle, around which grew a small town, and this is the town I was born in**. So I kind of reckon I'm more Anglo-Saxon that most of you anyway.


** Although my grandparents' families, on both sides, actually came from Bremen, which is in the middle of traditional Saxon territory. Apart from my great great grandfather, who came from Poznan. Which I reckon makes me as much Polish as Joe Biden is Irish. Complicated business, this identity stuff.
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lpm
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Re: Full English

Post by lpm » Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:00 am

I think the Cricket Test is pretty good. Who do you support when England plays Germany in a meaningless but ritualised sporting event?
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Re: Full English

Post by JQH » Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:04 am

I identify as British* rather than English. I was born in England as were both my parents though my maternal grandfather was Scottish with Irish ancestry (too remote for me to get an Irish passport, alas) and my nan was Welsh ancestry.

*And before B****t I used to self-identify as European. I didn't put that on the census because I don't trust our increasingly fascistic government not to trawl the returns looking for the "disloyal".
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discovolante
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Re: Full English

Post by discovolante » Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:05 am

Other way round too I suppose. There are several English ex pats here. I suppose I technically count as one too because I live in Scotland now (albeit the most Englishy English bit of Scotland apart from Highland B&Bs), and have to support Scotland against England in the Euros (seriously, can't even joke about it).

Not an entirely serious answer but underlying that, does Bavaria have a notoriously obnoxious football crowd?
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Re: Full English

Post by sTeamTraen » Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:09 am

warumich wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:46 am
Complicated business, this identity stuff.
I think this sums it up.

In the case of Lammy the woman had decided that "English" meant "white" (he schooled her about white Bajans, but she wasn't going to listen). That was only ever going to go one way, and indeed sure enough she started going on about "pollution", but I think there are quite a lot of people who apply that reasoning without racist intent.

I find it interesting to see Scots of Asian descent identifying with Scottish nationalism, which is mostly defined (ISTM) by a historical dislike of the English. I can imagine a meeting between Hamza Yousaf and Nadhim Zahawi where they argue about Culloden could be quite funny.

Not having lived in England for 40 years I would like to be able to say "Oh, I'm beyond all that nationalism stiff, I'm just a citizen of Europe/the world", but everyone I've ever heard actually saying that has been an utter w.nker, usually a monolingual one at that. I'm still going to put milk in my tea, enjoy Marmite and an occasional bacon sandwich, fail to understand why everyone gets so exercised about the difference between Catholics and Protestants, and vaguely support England when the rugby is on.
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malbui
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Re: Full English

Post by malbui » Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:16 am

Over the years I've thought a lot about this question of self-identity and national identity, and I feel that for me it just doesn't happen on a national level. I hold three passports for purely logistical reasons because under normal circumstances that can help with travel and stuff, but I don't really feel that any of them represent me in any way. If anything my allegiance is at a lower level and fundamentally I see myself as Kentish* in terms of sporting and vaguely cultural identity, but even there a big part of that is a result of schooling and accent.

Having lived in a number of countries I still can't decide whether I'm at home everywhere or at home nowhere. I tend towards the latter.



* Not "Of Kent", I'll have you know. Don't want anything to do with those moon-worshipping illiterate barbarians.
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discovolante
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Re: Full English

Post by discovolante » Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:18 am

sTeamTraen wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:09 am
warumich wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 9:46 am
Complicated business, this identity stuff.
I think this sums it up.

In the case of Lammy the woman had decided that "English" meant "white" (he schooled her about white Bajans, but she wasn't going to listen). That was only ever going to go one way, and indeed sure enough she started going on about "pollution", but I think there are quite a lot of people who apply that reasoning without racist intent.

I find it interesting to see Scots of Asian descent identifying with Scottish nationalism, which is mostly defined (ISTM) by a historical dislike of the English. I can imagine a meeting between Hamza Yousaf and Nadhim Zahawi where they argue about Culloden could be quite funny.

Not having lived in England for 40 years I would like to be able to say "Oh, I'm beyond all that nationalism stiff, I'm just a citizen of Europe/the world", but everyone I've ever heard actually saying that has been an utter w.nker, usually a monolingual one at that. I'm still going to put milk in my tea, enjoy Marmite and an occasional bacon sandwich, fail to understand why everyone gets so exercised about the difference between Catholics and Protestants, and vaguely support England when the rugby is on.
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Re: Full English

Post by bjn » Tue Mar 30, 2021 11:02 am

This is a thing that’s been in my face since childhood, I was born to Italian parents, in England, but grew up from the age of 3 and educated to degree level in Australia, I’ve now lived in London since my mid twenties with a stint in Montreal, my first language was Italian, but i’m profoundly rusty in it. What am I? Sort of all of the above and yet none of them in particular. I don’t feel English or particularly British, even though I was born here and hold a passport. I was continually informed by many Australians that I wasn’t a “real” one, had no right to be there, and the rituals of Anzac day felt alien to me (even though I wore the uniform in my University’s army reserve regiment partly as an attempt to fit in). I’m definitely not Italian, though I feel a deep attachment to the people and country (30 odd cousins living there helps with that).

A European Londoner/Sydneysider is the closest description of how I feel. My tastes and attitudes are Italian/Australian, but mainly cross culturally geeky.

Is it an extended family thing? If you grow up in a place with an extended family, does that make you feel part of it? My half Italian cousins in the U.K. definitely think of themselves as English.

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Re: Full English

Post by Gfamily » Tue Mar 30, 2021 11:04 am

Mrs G's mum (born in sarf London, but largely lived in SW England) once lamented that all of her children had married 'foreigners'.
One from across the Atlantic, and two from across the Bristol Channel.
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Re: Full English

Post by Fishnut » Tue Mar 30, 2021 11:13 am

I identify as British. My family is a mix of (mostly) English and (a little bit) Welsh so really I should identify as English but there are so many negative connotations to that term in my head that I can't (similar to warumich's gf). If someone says they're English I have visions of people waving St George's Crosses around and telling people they don't like to "go back where they came from". That's not a group of people I want to be associated with.

I'm currently reading Sathnam Sanghera's Empireland and I urge everyone to read it. It's really accessible and thought-provoking and informative. When I get round to it I'll be quoting from it in the museum's thread as there's loads of really relevant info. The chapter I've just read is all about British identity. He repeatedly makes the point that the UK is multicultural because we went out and invaded other countries and made them part of our empire:
"In the 'debate' about multiculturalism, almost all the pressure is put on immigrant communities, to integrate, to pass citizenship tests, to learn English and to accept certain national values. But the 'host' society has responsibilities too. Chief among them, in the case of Britain, is surely to acknowledge that brown people are here because Britain, at best, had close relationships with its colonies for centuries, which included millions of the colonised putting their lives on the line for Britain during two world wars, or because Britain, at worst, violently repressed and exploited its colonies for centuries....

Empire is the reason Hindu from the Gujarat region of India, Muslims fom the Pakistan region of Punjab and Bangladesh and Sikhs from the Indian Punjab (including my parents and grandparents) came to live here after the Second World War. Empire is the reason Brixton is a largely black neighbourhood... Britain has long struggled to accept the imperial explanation for its racial diversity. The idea that black and brown people are aliens who arrived without permission, and no link to Britain, to abuse British hospitality is the defining political narrative of my lifetime.
We could have been a mono-cultured all-white country but our ancestors decided to try and conquer as much of the world as possible and we have to live with the consequences. We so desperately need some nationwide examination of our history because the view of so many is so deeply distorted, across all sectors of society and it's being used to foment division in an already divided country.
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Re: Full English

Post by dyqik » Tue Mar 30, 2021 11:27 am

lpm wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:00 am
I think the Cricket Test is pretty good. Who do you support when England plays Germany in a meaningless but ritualised sporting event?
The underdog.

And in my Anglo-American identity question, that generally doesn't leave much question about whom to support in major international team sporting events, except in women's soccer, where both England and the US have highly ranked teams.

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warumich
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Re: Full English

Post by warumich » Tue Mar 30, 2021 11:30 am

Haha, the German cricket team, hahahaha! I think they still celebrate the time when, some ten years ago, they almost but not quite beat the isle of Jersey.

On football I'm not sure. I used to feel genuinely ambivalent when Germany played England, but since Brexit I've emotionally disengaged from the England team. Not that football is really that important to me though.

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Don't know about Bavarian footie supporters, they don't have a separate national team. Obviously everyone hates Bayern Munich supporters, but that's because they bl..dy win everything, don't think their fans are any worse than others.



Interesting how many people reject English as an identity. Kind of sad I think
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Re: Full English

Post by warumich » Tue Mar 30, 2021 11:34 am

In rugby I support France, obv. since I value having a relatively peaceful household. The German rugby team is somewhere near the German cricket team in competence.
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Martin Y
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Re: Full English

Post by Martin Y » Tue Mar 30, 2021 11:38 am

Census made me think about it. British and Scottish. Probably British first but don't make me choose. Even though I've now lived in England for longer* than Scotland it wouldn't occur to me to consider myself English. European? Well, no. Even though Brexit made me more pro-EU I can't say I ever felt in my gut I was "a European".

*I forget I have an accent. On a training course before the current unpleasantness the most senior person in the room jokingly mimicked a middle class Scots accent right after I spoke and it took me a moment. Struck me the power imbalance made it a bit David Brent. Cringed a little for him.

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Re: Full English

Post by Woodchopper » Tue Mar 30, 2021 11:54 am

warumich wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 11:34 am
In rugby I support France, obv. since I value having a relatively peaceful household. The German rugby team is somewhere near the German cricket team in competence.
My father is from London and my mother from Glasgow. As a child I ended up supporting England at football and Scotland at rugby.

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Re: Full English

Post by Woodchopper » Tue Mar 30, 2021 11:58 am

warumich wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 11:30 am
Interesting how many people reject English as an identity. Kind of sad I think
I suspect that's another sign of how atypical the forum members are. We seem to be citizens of the Republic of Letters.

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Martin Y
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Re: Full English

Post by Martin Y » Tue Mar 30, 2021 12:01 pm

Woodchopper wrote: I suspect that's another sign of how atypical the forum members are. We seem to be citizens of the Republic of Letters.
<shocked> Letters? That's Numberist!

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Re: Full English

Post by headshot » Tue Mar 30, 2021 12:03 pm

Half English, Half Welsh. Born in the English Midlands.

I identify in this specific order: European, British, English.

Further narrowing your identity is as stupid as flying a regional flag and thinking it means anything.

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Re: Full English

Post by bagpuss » Tue Mar 30, 2021 12:05 pm

malbui wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:16 am

* Not "Of Kent", I'll have you know. Don't want anything to do with those moon-worshipping illiterate barbarians.
Oi.

I mean, I'm a Warwickshire lass myself but both my dad and Mr Bagpuss were/are Men of Kent. Quite fond of the moon but definitely literate and only semi-barbarian.

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Re: Full English

Post by bagpuss » Tue Mar 30, 2021 12:13 pm

I self-identify as British and/or European. I'm almost entirely English but I don't feel that there's anything about English that I relate to more strongly than I relate to British. And besides, it would feel wrong to entirely ignore the 12.5% of me that is Scottish, even if I've rarely even been to Scotland.

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Re: Full English

Post by Woodchopper » Tue Mar 30, 2021 12:28 pm

Back to David Lammay
The Labour MP for Tottenham said his parents were among many people from around the world who “ended up coming back to the mother country”, and said the idea of an English ethnicity was a myth and that Englishness as an identity was civic in nature.

“Here I am, having grown up in this country, have been born of this country, and actually the truth is it’s a myth there’s one English ethnicity – there’s not,” he said. “England has always been a country in which Huguenots, Danes, all sorts of people have passed through.

“So when you say you are English, I’m not saying that doesn’t mean something to you and matter hugely … but it is to say that for me, the fact that I was born here and the fact that my sensibilities are English mean I want to claim that heritage as well.”
I don't know whether he's doing it deliberately, but he seems to be referring to something that Michael Ignatieff wrote about almost three decades ago. His observation is that there are two kinds of national identity. One is civic and based upon shared laws and institutions. For example, immigrants from all over the world who become citizens of the US by swearing an oath of allegiance it its constitution. Another is based upon notions of shared blood ties. For example, an Orange Order march in the UK or nationalist movements in, say, Serbia or Hungary.

Of course almost everywhere is a mixture of both to a certain extent, though some are closer to one or other extreme. The balance between those two tend to be contested between different parts of society. Often, claims of blood ties however imaginary are more appealing than appeals to shared civic ties.

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Re: Full English

Post by kerrya1 » Tue Mar 30, 2021 12:49 pm

I identify as European - Scottish, not really British and certainly not English.

This has changed quite a lot since Brexit, before then I would probably have said British as I have ancestry that would allow me to represent any of the four home nations in the Six Nations. I'm increasingly disillusioned with the petty nationalistic flag waving that seems to be taking hold south of the border, but unfortunately the same thing seems to be happening in many European nations right now and Scotland is hardly immune to it.

I recently "activated" my Irish citizenship as a result of Brexit, I'll be registering the kids as Irish as soon as that option reopens post-Covid. I'm not sure if I'll ever get my daughter a British passport and it'll obviously be her choice when she gets older.

It's all very complicated and somewhat depressing in many ways.

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Re: Full English

Post by dyqik » Tue Mar 30, 2021 12:52 pm

The US discussion around this question is significantly different, for obvious reasons.

A white person whose family have been in the US for several generations can say "I'm Italian", "I'm Irish", "I'm German" etc. without raising the question of whether they are American. In Boston, someone can say "I'm Irish" in an Irish tinged accent without raising the question.

But if you're Jewish, Asian or Latino (who may well have been on the land longer than northern european caucasians), then the style of questions Lammy is responding to are common. Even more so for Iranian, Arab or Indian Americans. And then there's the African American experience.

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Re: Full English

Post by Fishnut » Tue Mar 30, 2021 1:06 pm

headshot wrote:
Tue Mar 30, 2021 12:03 pm
Further narrowing your identity is as stupid as flying a regional flag and thinking it means anything.
I identify more readily as being from the west country/Somerset than I do being English. I think in part it's because of my aversion to calling myself English which means I'm more likely to call myself anything other than that, and local identity seems to have become more of a thing in recent years. But it's also because politically the country is discussed in very regional way and this area gets so forgotten about even though we have some areas of serious deprivation. I know the north has it bad but at least it gets talked about how bad it is! We get lumped in with 'the south' even though what they really mean is the home counties. So I'm explicit in being from this area almost as a reminder to people that we exist.
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Re: Full English

Post by 4piE-7 » Tue Mar 30, 2021 1:10 pm

My ancestors were English or Scottish, depending on who was trying to arrest them that day.
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