Assignment One- Research

Developing and Understanding Photographic Practice

Ian Interviews Taaj – Come Fly With Me – BBC One

As I am beginning to throw myself into this project, I am seeing Britishness and focus upon our national identity everywhere. Take ‘Come Fly With Me’ for example. It is a BBC one comedy and shows a funny side to an everyday airport. Therefore I was surprise when I saw such a stereotypical British talk; ‘When I say at random, its only the black and brown ones. I don’t bother with the yellow people…’. I feel like this is such a relevant point to talk about as people who live my little village back home in the north always use these collective noun terms, and its interesting because we strictly claim that we are not racist. The conversation is between a border control officer and a worker who was picked for questioning due to his “funny” name. ‘Where were you born?’… ‘Bradford’… ‘Alright, where were your parents born?’… ‘Oh sorry, Sheffield’… ‘Alright, where were their parents originally from?’… ‘Pakistan’. After researching the BNP beliefs this is exactly what they say, they believe that you are not English unless your ancestors have been here since 500BC, and even though this is suppose to be a comedy I can really see some truth behind this comedic sketch. However, the most relevant point to my project is when the worker goes on to say, ‘I prefer English foods like pizza and Chinese’. My project is all about food interpreting how we conceive ‘Britishness’ in the 21st century, and I think this is a perfect example of how we claim these foods as British even though they didn’t arrive before 500BC. I wonder if the members of the BNP have thoughts on this and eat these “British” foods.

View this interview for yourself;

British Identities since 177, volume 2- By McGlynn, Mycock, McAuley

I found this book really insightful, as it doesn’t give bias opinions, it states facts based on historical moments. It gives reasons for why Britishness was created and how and why this is important in today’s society. For example, “A concept of Britishness that dispenses, as far as is possible, with connotations of racial or ethnic ancestry and which decouples the idea of Britishness from a British state or the ‘ethological unity’ of greater Britain”. This shows that J.R Seely believes that the people who live in the country owns the country, meaning that our ancestors who lived hundreds of years ago have given us the ability to have this citizenship and to own our country; A strong idea of the contemporary BNP. I also feel like Seely is saying that if we didn’t have our norms, values and our beliefs then it wouldn’t make this country this country, it needs our traditions or else its almost pointless; the country wouldn’t have a national identity it would just be a location. Perhaps there is some truth to that statement.

“Recent years have witnesses an increase in the profile of debates about national identity and citizenship”, I fully agree with this statement. Researching all about national identity and how it is certainty not a policy, just a need and theory by citizens, shows a reflection of the country’s people. I do feel like the English have always shown an interest of having an identity, but recently with parties like the BNP and UKIP, it has become more popular and more talked about.

It then goes on to say, “These respectables claimed British political traditions and claimed Britishness is an effort to transform the very un-British practices of colonial rule”, I feel that the authors are trying to say that we have this added Britishness and emphasis on that in an effort to make Britain have the same traditions and aspects that it once did years ago. Perhaps people are scared of the change and therefore create all these collective nouns to make certain people who do not fit into these descriptions feel like outsiders, creating a stronger “English bond”. It carries on to say, “In 1909, Jabavu wrote, ‘the cow of great Britain has now gone dry’”, showing that perhaps by this year England had changed, people had started to emigrate here for a better life therefore changing our traditional norms and values and starting to transform England.


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