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Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit

British migrants in Berlin: negotiating postcolonial melancholia and racialised nationalism in the wake of Brexit

Abstract

World War II nostalgia in the UK is mired in a postcolonial melancholia that not only fuels Brexit nationalism, but carries implications for how the UK relates to the European Continent. This paper presents an empirically engaged examination of Gilroy's concept of postcolonial melancholia by exploring how British migrants negotiate this “complex ailment”. Engaging with empirical research conducted with British migrants in Berlin, I will examine how migrants negotiate this form of nationalism through their relationships with family members in the UK. The particular position of the British migrant in Germany illuminates how postcolonial melancholia's entrenchment shapes British nationalism and Britain's relationship to mainland Europe. It explores discourses of British exceptionalism before examining how Brexit's foregrounding of empire nostalgia pushes migrants to redefine their relationship to Britain. Meanwhile, black British migrants inhabit a different orientation to the postcolonial through their practical engagement with complex colonial histories.

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Journal

Ethnic and Racial Studies

Author

Christy Kulz (Germany)

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