The revolt of the country: Brexit, history, and English nationhood

by Helen Thompson

For a country said to be obsessed with its past, Britain has a politics in which there is often little understanding of the legacy of history. Having long looked politically insignificant, the idea of English nationhood has resurfaced in the past few years -- not least in relation to Brexit. Helen Thompson argues that Englishness has been such a potent force in the debate over Brexit because it builds on a long history of Country resistance to a cosmopolitan Court, which dates back to the Norman Conquest. “Take back control” was such a powerful message precisely because English identity has so often been premised on that very political imperative.

Bans, boats, and the language of borders

by Carys Goodwin

In April 2017, Australian immigration minister Peter Dutton became embroiled in yet another controversy regarding Australia’s offshore detention centres. This scandal involved reports of a shooting – an altercation between local soldiers and detainees on Manus Island that Dutton asserted was linked to asylum seekers bringing a five year old boy into the detention centre. In the fourth part of our symposium on migration, Carys Goodwin examines what the incident tells us about the politics of asylum in Australia.

Shattering the glass ceiling… while standing on shifting sands

by Kaitlin Ball and Maha Rafi Atal

2016 was meant to be the year that women shattered the glass ceiling, electing the first female US president and the first female UN Secretary-General. Not only were those hopes dashed, but in 2017 women continue to face many familiar challenges, from renewed assaults on reproductive rights in the United States, to political debates about burka bans across Europe and the global scourge of gender-based violence. The Gender and the Political Academy conference in Cambridge on 2 May aims to unite thinkers of all ages and backgrounds to tackle the plethora of challenges facing women worldwide. Kaitlin Ball and Maha Rafi Atal argue that the defeats of 2016 provide an opportunity to re-ground feminism in a more inclusive vision.

The happiest country in the world - as long as you’re white

by Matthew Mahmoudi

On 10 February the Danish Parliament, the Folketing, expressed its ‘concern’ that ‘many areas in Denmark contain a proportion of immigrants and descendants from non-Western countries which surpasses 50%’. In the third part of our special series on migration, Matthew Mahmoudi explores Denmark's troubled approach to integration and asks whether it is really 'the happiest country in the world'.

To ignore others can be to forget oneself: Europe’s laws of hospitality and the refugee crisis

by Garrett Wallace Brown

As Europeans confront the profound political challenges of the current refugee crisis, political theorist Garrett Wallace Brown argues that they would do well to reflect on a longstanding ethical tradition: the laws of hospitality. From ancient Greece to the Enlightenment, a call to welcome strangers escaping harm, persecution and death has been at the centre of Europe’s history of ideas.

“You have to tell a story”: Emma Jane Kirby on reporting the migration crisis

by Emma Jane Kirby in conversation with Hettie O’Brien

Six years on from the start of the Syrian civil war, the migration crisis has developed a rich and powerful imagery: pictures of overcrowded rubber boats at sea, of Aleppo’s obliterated streets, and of makeshift settlements in Calais. Though the scale of the dislocation can be overwhelming, images and objects – like the picture of Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach – have helped awaken UK public opinion to the human cost of the crisis. As part of our new series on migration, Hettie O’Brien spoke to Emma Jane Kirby, an award winning foreign correspondent who has covered the European migration crisis for the BBC. Her recent book, The Optician of Lampedusa, blends fact and fictive elements to tell the real-life story of Carmine Menna, a local optician who found himself at the centre of the crisis when he rescued drowning migrants from the Mediterranean.

Beyond Brexit: Gina Miller on the Article 50 court case and the future

by Gina Miller in conversation with Hettie O’Brien

The triggering of Article 50 this week marked the beginning of Britain’s uncoupling from the European Union. While much ink has already been spilt over Brexit, few can agree about what it will mean for the future of the United Kingdom. Gina Miller, the UK business owner, became well-known for drawing attention to what she termed the ‘elephant in the room’ of the Brexit legal process. Along with London-based hairdresser Deir Tozetti Dos Santos and the People’s Challenge Group, Miller launched a crowdfunded court case against the UK government, claiming that it had illegally used its executive powers to invoke Article 50. This, Miller argued, was a breach of parliamentary sovereignty, and a threat to democracy. She has since faced numerous death threats and has been branded a ‘bremoaner’ and ‘chief wrecker’ by the pro-Brexit press. In an appearance on the Andrew Marr show, she clashed with Nigel Farage over their divergent opinions on sovereignty. The day after Theresa May triggered Article 50, In the Long Run’s Hettie O’Brien spoke to the businesswoman and philanthropist about her hopes for the negotiations.

War to peace to war to truce: what next for Mozambique?

by Justin Pearce

A truce in Mozambique has halted, but not resolved, an insurgency that defies an international discourse on Mozambique as a poster-child for liberal post-war recovery. With hindsight, the accord that ended the 1976-92 civil war appears to have set the country up for a return to violence 20 years later. Democracy and global trade consolidated Frelimo’s dominance in politics, while Renamo opposition leader Afonso’s Dhlakama’s best chance to assert himself was by remobilising the armed men who remained within his fiefdom. Although this is not a popular uprising, it was made possible by Renamo tapping into present and historic grievance against the state.

The revenge of the crocodile: Northern Ireland’s election brings new uncertainty

by Barry Colfer

Northern Ireland’s latest election on 2 March provoked soul-searching among unionists as Sinn Féin pulled within one seat of becoming the largest party. As the Stormont parties struggle to put together a new executive, the province’s future is more than an inconvenience to be resolved in the context of the Article 50 negotiations. The current instability may yet give rise to another full-blown constitutional crisis before power-sharing turns twenty.

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