Guest post for Progress in Political Economy: Imagining England, Imagining the Centre

The University of Sydney’s Political Economy department are a fantastic team and I have previously mentioned how fascinating and enriching I found their 2018 Historical Materialism conference. Their blog Progress in Political Economy is one I always read with great interest, and so it was very exciting to be asked to write a guest post about my book and the ‘lessons’ of history for contemporary Brexit politics.

The full post is available here.

The persistent language of historical return in postwar British culture ultimately speaks to a cultural logic which is fundamentally closed, exclusive, and precludes change itself. These antipathies to the new are embedded in aesthetic and affective norms, and reproduce themselves through judgments about what is authentic and desirable.

Thinking about Milton Keynes cannot, of course, in itself give us an answer to the challenges of contemporary British politics. Thinking through its challenges to deep-seated cultural norms, however, provides a way to trace, and possibly to challenge, attitudes to where cultural authority is seen to reside.


It was great to have a chance to discuss these issues of cultural authority and value with a different audience, and I look forward to (hopefully) getting back up there for a 2019 Historical Materialism conference to continue the conversation.

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