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Conference | Brexit and Beyond: Nation and Identity

The 2019 SAUTE conference, “Brexit and Beyond: Nation and Identity”, will take place at the University of Basel on May 3 and 4, 2019.

Debates about national identity have gained new currency in recent years. Demonstrations of national self-assertion have been occurring with greater frequency around the globe, resulting in the Brexit decision in the U.K., significant changes in American international policies, and the introduction of authoritarian measures by some member states of the European Union. Taking place shortly after Britain will probably have left the European Union, this conference will address the developments outlined above and the cultural discourses surrounding them.

Regarding Brexit, the Leave victory and current British Euroscepticism are often explained with a fairly narrow focus on economic, legal and political factors, underestimating more ‘fuzzy’ phenomena such as cultural myths, narratives and images which circulate in literature, travel writing, visual arts and other media, influencing people on a visceral level – sometimes against their better judgement. This conference will examine the construction and negotiation of cultural identities in language, literature and the media with a focus on cultural memory and the cultural imaginary as well as stereotyping, mythmaking, people’s shared fictions and the impact of the resulting policies on people’s lives. Literary studies and linguistics can make an important contribution to our understanding of current political developments, and to a critique of jingoistic populism.

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