The romance of decline: the historiography of appeasement and British national identity

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It is intended to advance a strong reading of the opening assertion, and to suggest that changing - and competing - conceptions of British national identity have been crucial in the evolution of interpretations of appeasement. On the one hand, shifting perspectives on national identity have critically shaped academic engagement with the subject. On the other hand - though here the claim is somewhat less strong - this writing has helped to disseminate particular conceptions of national identity in the wider social world. This is not to deny that it is still legitimate to regard this historiography in conventional terms as a discourse about some discrete events in the 1930s as refracted through the extant documentary traces. However, the aim here is to foreground some of the rather more subjective aspects of historians' engagement with appeasement. Whatever the merits of traditional perspectives on the historiography of appeasement, it is at least as interesting and valid to think of it as a discourse about British national identity in the present as well as the past.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalElectronic Journal of International History
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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