As Gordon Brown wrestles with how to promote a sense of ‘Britishness’, there are increased signs of revival of a sense of English identity, whether expressed through the resurgence in popularity of the English flag or increased call to celebrate St George’s Day as a national holiday. There is also an increasing popular literature exploring the notion of the ‘English’ and ‘Englishness’ often creating essentialised models of the concept (e.g. Ackroyd 2002; Gill 2007; Paxman 1999).
However, whilst other discipline, such as art history, literary studies and geography have long treated the notion of ‘Englishness’ as concept worthy of analysis and deconstruction, this has not been true for archaeology (cf. : Burden and Kohl 2006; Corbett , Holt and Russell 2002; Matless 1998; Pevsner 1956). Whether exploring the development of national traditions of scholarship or considering the way in which material culture is used to develop and maintain a sense of national identity, there has been a tendency for England to be subsumed within a wider British or imperial discourse (though there are some exceptions e.g. Johnson 2007). This session aims to restore this balance and consider the extent to which it is possible to recognise the notion of ‘England’ and ‘Englishness’ within archaeology.
It is hoped to explore a number of facets of the problematic relationship between archaeology and English identity including: 1/ Materiality and Englishness: the way in which material culture, structures and landscapes were used to create and maintain a distinct sense of English identity in past societies; 2/ The development of English traditions of archaeological scholarship and a consideration of the consequences of the development of ‘England’ as a distinct unit of analysis. Is there a distinct English tradition of archaeology or heritage management?; 3/ The use of archaeology to create discourses of ‘Englishness’ in popular culture.
Ackroyd, P. 2002. Albion – The origins of the English imagination London
Burden R and S. Kohl 2006. Landscape and Englishness, Amsterdam
Corbett, D., Holt, Y. and Russell, F. 2002. The geographies of Englishness : landscape and the national past 1880-1940 London
Gill, A.A. 2007. The Angry Island: Hunting the English London
Johnson, M. 2007. Ideas of landscape Blackwell
Matless, D. 1998. Landscape and Englishness London
Paxman, J. 1999. The English: A portrait of a people London
Pevsner, N. 1956. The Englishness of English Art London