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Welshness in ‘British Wales’: negotiating national identity at the margins

Nations and Nationalism

Published online on


--- - |2 Abstract Popular interpretations of national identity often focus on the unifying qualities of nationhood. However, societies frequently draw hierarchical distinctions between the people and places who are ‘most national’, and those who are ‘least national’. Little attention is paid to these marginal places within the nation and the experiences of their inhabitants. This article helps to address this by analysing the ‘less Welsh’ British Wales region of Wales, a country that has traditionally possessed a hierarchical, regionally constituted nationhood. The article studies the British Wales region both ‘from above’ – considering how some areas develop as ‘less national’ – and ‘from below’, introducing empirical ethnographic work into ‘everyday Welshness’ in this area. Whilst previous work on hierarchical nationhood focuses on how hierarchies are institutionalized by the state, this article demonstrates how people at the margins of the nation actively negotiate their place in the nation. Whilst people in this area expressed a strong Welshness, they also struggled to place themselves in the nation because they had internalized their lowly place within the national hierarchy. The article demonstrates the importance of place and social class for national identity construction and draws attention to the role of power in the discursive construction of hierarchical nationhood. - 'Nations and Nationalism, EarlyView. '