9.45am, Wednesday 25 July 2018
The Market Place Theatre Armagh
The title of this lecture inserts John Hewitt’s preferred identity into the title of Bernard Crick’s celebrated essay on nationality and allegiance: ‘An Englishman considers his passport’. Hewitt’s poem The Frontier reflects on crossing borders – which was also the title of Crick’s collection of essays – and the lecture considers not a current but an old passport, one dated 1981-91. Recollecting the frontier crossings represented by particular stamps in that passport, the lecture revisits those Europe borders, discussing how they have changed and how they may be changing again. These recollections involve a literary, as well as a historical and political, excursion from the past to the present. The geographical location is mainly what is called (post 1991) ‘Central Europe’ but which in 1981 was known as ‘Eastern Europe’. Today, as in the past, Mitteleuropa is as much as –if not more than – a place of the imagination as it is a territorial location. In that regard, it may be said to resemble Field Day’s notion of the ‘Fifth Province’, a thought which returns the lecture to Ireland and its own border, one which (like all frontiers) is a line on the map but also, as J C Beckett once put it, in the minds of people. That the Irish border – which has always been more of a ‘crossing’ – should have become, in a way no one could have imagined 2 years ago, such a central issue of European politics returns the lecture to Hewitt and his abiding cultural concerns.
Arthur Aughey is Emeritus Professor of Politics at Ulster University, Senior Fellow at the Centre for British Politics at the University of Hull, Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and former Senior Leverhulme Fellow (2008-11). He has published widely on constitutional change and politics in the United Kingdom. Publications include: Nationalism Devolution and the Challenge to the United Kingdom State (2001); The Politics of Englishness (2007) and The British Question (2013). Recently, he co-authored with Cathy Gormley-Heenan: ‘Northern Ireland and Brexit: Three effects on ‘the border in the mind’ in The British Journal of Politics and International Relations. His latest book, The Conservative Party: Britain, England and Europe was published earlier this year by Manchester University Press.
THIS EVENT IS PART OF THE JOHN HEWITT SUMMER SCHOOL
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