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“Europe” as Britain’s Other

Doreen Allerkamp
Universität Mannheim
Doreen Allerkamp
Universität Mannheim
Open Panel

Abstract

For many in Great Britain, “an Island off the North-West Coast of Europe” (Wallace 1996), “Europe” refers to “the Continent”, or what geographically might be referred to as “Conti¬nental Europe”. In this conception, which is pervasive today in public and political discourse, “Europe” most emphatically does not include the United Kingdom (UK). Given that the Brit¬ish Isles have most definitely been an integral part of “European” history since before the Roman invasion, and that the UK today plays a prominent role in European Union (EU) poli¬tics, the emergence and persistence of this notion is puzzling. This paper explores the origins and meaning of this peculiarly British notion of “Europe”, tracing the evolution of the narra¬tive of Britain as separate from “Europe” and asking why it has not disappeared, at the latest, with the UK’s accession to the European Communities in 1973.