We’re delighted to mark the start of a new academic year with the publication of our very own journal – the Journal of British Identities.
The JBI is a free, peer–reviewed, open access, online interdisciplinary journal which aims to encourage public debate about Britishness. The journal has developed from some of the conversations which have been taking place on this research network blog for the past couple of years, where MLitt British Studies’ colleagues and students from the University of the Highlands and Islands, academics from across the world, heritage professionals and members of the public have shared their thoughts on the complexity of identities in the British Isles and British World.
Our first issue of JBI features four articles reflecting on various different aspects of British identities. First, we have Marzia Maccaferri examining the development of debate about Europe amongst British intellectuals from the Suez crisis to the first referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the EEC, back in 1975. Stephen Collins’ article on Invernessian folklore in the 1870s shifts our focus towards the British Empire and how Alex Fraser’s work on wells and water in the Highlands can be read as part of the developing discourse which saw folkloric practices through the lens of imperialism. We then move back to seventeenth– and eighteenth–century Scotland, where Alan Montgomery’s article establishes how an earlier connection between Britain and Europe – the Roman Empire – shaped certain aspects of Scottish identity during the early modern period. And, finally, we have Gareth Jenkins’ reflection on how historians have characterized the cities of Belfast and Liverpool in the late–nineteenth and early–twentieth centuries, examining the subtle interactions of local, regional and national identities in the development of sectarian political culture.
All the articles in the first issue of JBI, then, engage with debates that continue to have contemporary political resonance, from the UK’s decision to exit from the EU to discussions of ‘Empire 2.0’ and Britain’s relationship with the Commonwealth, to the increasing importance of Northern Ireland to the fortunes of Theresa May’s Conservative government following the 2017 General Election. What these events, and the articles presented here, tell us is that understanding British identities is key to making sense of the world today and, importantly, that these identities are shifting, malleable and have changed (and continue to change) over time.
We hope this first issue of JBI opens up more public debate about Britishness. We will shortly be making our second call for papers (for the issue to be published in September 2018) and we welcome contributions from researchers of all backgrounds, including submissions from the public outwith academia, and from early career academics and students. In the meantime, we hope that you enjoy reading JBI and we look forward to further exciting and fruitful public conversations about British identities in the future.