Reflecting on Englishness and St George

Posted on Friday 26th April 2013

Chris AllenOn Wednesday 23rd April, IASS’s Chris Allen took part in a cross-college event at St George’s Church in Edgbaston that reflected on the nature of Englishness in the context of the secular and the sacred.

The event opened with a performance of ‘Redcrosse’. The work of Professor Ewan Fernie from the University’s Shakespeare Institute, ‘Redcrosse’ is an innovative new work – part arts performance, part groundbreaking new religious service – which seeks to reaffirm Englishness and St. George by taking its cue from one of the great neglected epics of English literature, Edmund Spenser’s ‘The Faerie Queene’.

Following the performance, IASS’s Chris Allen joined Professor Michael Dobson and Revd Julian Wright to reflect on what Englishness meant to them. Drawing upon his research into Islamophobia and the place of religion in the public and political spaces, Chris spoke about the way in which he felt the flag of St George had been hijacked by some from within the far-right. Drawing upon research undertaken by the think-tank British Future as also the lyrics of Morrissey songs, Chris spoke about how far too many ‘English’ people – around a quarter according to research - saw the flag as a symbol of confrontation and exclusion.

A question and answer session followed after the personal reflections.

At the end of the event Chris said:

"Given how many people find Englishness and the St George's flag in particular problematic, it was really good to create a safe space to reflect and think about what a progressive Englishness - one that reflects the diversity of England today - might begin to look like."

More about ‘Redcrosse’.