This article examines the significance of race in how nation is articulated by the white middle-classes in ‘post-racial’ Britain. In doing so, it highlights the centrality of bodies and informal markers of difference within processes of national recognition and reveals a normative expectation for British bodies racialised as non-white to perform or inhabit (particular kinds of) whiteness. Bringing insights from post-race theory and advocating a broad conceptualisation of whiteness as a set of relational ideas and codes, the article demonstrates that whiteness continues to shape and underpin dominant conceptions of Britishness – articulated by middle-class white Britons – even as they recognise people of colour individually, and to some extent collectively, as British. Since the role and symbolic power of the white middle-classes is often overlooked in discussions of Britishness, the article makes an important contribution to debates on race and nation, illustrating how whiteness continues to function in alledgedly ‘post-race’ societies. It concludes that narrow definitions of race and whiteness allow their continued significance to be under-estimated and ultimately enable the perpetuation of racialised hierarchies of belonging.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The author disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The work was supported by Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC Studentship 1363516 and ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship ES/S010599/1).
© The Author(s) 2021.