Bordering on Britishness 1927-2017

Canessa, Andrew (2017). Bordering on Britishness 1927-2017. [Data Collection]. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Archive. 10.5255/UKDA-SN-852694

Gibraltar’s border with Spain is one of the most contentious border issues within the European Union. Gibraltar continues to be a major issue in Anglo-Spanish relations and at its very heart are the Gibraltarians who articulate a clear identity which is often passionate in denying any Spanish identity. This sense of being Gibraltarian, British and not being Spanish has not, however, been an unvarying constant over time. There is no doubt that it is the attitudes of the Gibraltarians which are at the centre of the issue of sovereignty and yet it is remarkable how little Gibraltarians attitudes to themselves and their Spanish neighbours has been studied. Gibraltarians sense of who they are is consequently poorly understood and often reduced to a caricature of expatriate Britons. This research project will conduct extensive oral history interviews with at least 400 residents of Gibraltar (with a small sample from across the border) focusing on three key aspects which underline the process of identity formation: (1)the border, (2)ethnicity and religion, (3)language. Interviews will be conducted in English, Spanish, yanito (the local dialect), and Moroccan Arabic. The period covered will be from before WWII to the present day.

Data description (abstract)

Bordering on Britishness is an oral history project on Gibraltarian identity funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council in association with the Garrison Library of Gibraltar (Govt. of Gibraltar) and the University of Essex. The project run for three and a half years and collected 331 oral histories from a wide range of people resident in Gibraltar and a smaller sample of people resident in Spain of Spanish origin. Interviews were conducted in English, Spanish, Italian and Moroccan Arabic. These oral histories vary in length from just under an hour to over four hours in length. The average length of interview was just under two hours. People were free to choose which language (or combination thereof) they wished to use in order to capture the way Gibraltarians speak (often switching between languages) as well as test the hypothesis that identity might be expressed differently depending on which language is used. The main object of the research was to trace changing Gibraltarian identities across the twentieth century and into the twenty first. Bordering on Britishness presented its findings in a final conference in Gibraltar on the 24th and 25th of February 2017, also available on the project website.

Data creators:
Creator NameEmailAffiliationORCID (as URL)
Canessa, of EssexUnspecified
Sponsors: Economic and Social Research Council
Grant reference: ES/K006223/1
Topic classification: Politics
Society and culture
Keywords: gibraltar, british history, borders (frontiers), community identification, spain
Project title: Bordering on Britishness
Grant holders: Andrew Canessa
Project dates:
13 September 201330 April 2017
Date published: 13 Oct 2017 15:37
Last modified: 08 May 2019 09:56

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