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Populism, Secession and Geopolitics: The UK case, from Brexit to break-up?

June 29-30 & July 1 (11.30 am - 1.30 pm)

The secession of national units from larger states and empires has long been a feature of the international system, and has emerged in many different contexts during the twentieth century. Historically, secession has often been associated with war and violence, but it has been argued that in democratic states, and especially within the European Union, peaceful secession is possible.

This course will look at the problem of secession in Europe during the current decade, examining the similarities and differences between the movements for independence within the EU in Scotland and Catalonia and the British nationalist movement to exit the EU itself. The course will take Brexit, the only movement to have moved through a formal separation process, as a starting point, then examine the other two cases, and attempt to come to some conclusions on the issues involved in secession today. 

The first session will deal with general perspectives on populism, nationalism and secession, and the parameters of the UK's triple crisis (its political system, character as a multinational state, and European/global roles). The second session will explore Brexit from its origins in Tory divisions and insurgent populism, through the mainstreaming of racism in the referendum, to the prolonged crisis of 2016-19. The third session will cover Scottish independence, Irish reunification and their prospects in the context of Johnson’s Brexit and government - with a side view at the implications for Catalonia.

⬇️  Reading List available soon