AS politicians attempt to chart a new post-Brexit direction for the UK, could the “Anglosphere” be a way ahead?
This concept of political and economic union between the main English-speaking nations – Britain, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – has its origins in the British Empire and has been revived by some Brexiteers and Prime Minister Theresa May’s promotion of “Global Britain”.
A prestigious British Academy conference was recently co-convened by the University of Huddersfield’s Dr Andrew Mycock to analyse the history of the Anglosphere and debate its political, economic and cultural relevance to the modern post-Brexit world.
The conference took place in London at the headquarters of the British Academy, the UK’s national body for the humanities and social sciences. It was one of a series taking place at the exclusive venue that brings together leading global scholars.
It featured experts from 12 universities in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and Europe, plus guests that included the Australian Deputy High Commissioner in the UK, Matt Anderson, who provided an opening address.
Dr Mycock – who is Reader in Politics at Huddersfield – collaborated with two long-term associates, the University of Cambridge’s Professor Michael Kenny and Dr Ben Wellings of Monash University in Australia, to mount the two-day event titled The Anglosphere and its Others: The ‘English-speaking Peoples’ in a Changing World Order.
It is very easy to dismiss the concept of the Anglosphere, but it clearly has appeal and potency for some...
Dr Andrew Mycock
“It is very easy to dismiss the concept of the Anglosphere,” noted Dr Mycock, “as it lacks many of the formal political and economic institutions and structures we associate with membership of the European Union.”
“But it clearly has appeal and potency for some,” he continued. “It has captured the imagination of certain groups of policymakers – particularly in terms of intelligence and military policy networks – and advocates argue there is an Anglospheric view of international relations which is clearly different to that of mainland Europe.”
Papers at the conference included Dr Mycock’s Brexit, the Anglosphere and the emergence of ‘Global Britain’. His University of Huddersfield colleague Professor Wendy Webster discussed language and speech in the Anglosphere.
Other topics analysed by experts at the conference included the Anglosphere and cricket; the Anglosphere in post-war British politics; Winston Churchill, the English-speaking peoples and a United States of Europe; and the Anglosphere and the end of Empire. A final discussion session brought together leading public figures to discuss Anglosphere politics in a changing world order.
An edited volume of the proceedings of the conference is due to be published by the Oxford University Press in 2018 and the conference attracted the interest of prominent political commentators, including Guardian columnist Martin Kettle, whose article concluded that “the myth of the Anglosphere alternative needs nailing”.
Dr Mycock said that an aim of the event was to establish an international network of leading scholars from a broad range of disciplines to explore how the Anglosphere is understood across Anglophone states.
This network is now taking shape. There are plans for a follow-up event in other Anglosphere countries and a panel comprising of some of the British Academy conference participants will be held at the Australian Political Studies Association’s conference in Melbourne in September. In that same month, Dr Mycock will also give a lecture in New Zealand.