Following some recent developments identity seems to be a subject worthy of comment.
First off there is the news concerning the Cornish populations genetic heritage.
Lets take genetic surveys of this sort with a pinch of salt please. Every year new data is released that seems to contradict what was previously held to be true. If next year new research ‘proves’ the opposite – no genetic difference between the Cornish and English – would it changed anything within the Cornish movement? Would dedicated autonomists throw their hands in the air and give up the cause? Of course not! I can’t speak for everybody but the basis of my political life is not genetic.
The information is interesting in that it supports what Cornish historians have claimed for decades now i.e. until relatively recently Cornwall maintained a distinct society from Devonshire and the rest of England but that’s about all. It’s certainly no road map for the future. The Cornish identity that we wish to see perpetuated should not be based on bloodlines but rather on a love of culture and heritage. The Cornish society that we wish to see empowered should not be one based on erroneous concepts of racial purity but rather one based on a desire to live and construct our future together. My Cornish nationalism is a project for Kernow’s future that I’m more than happy to share with any other inhabitant of plant earth. If Cornish culture and identity are to have any future then they must stretch out beyond any potential Cornish gene-pool.
Then we have Ed Miliband talking up England whilst extolling the multi-layered nature of identity.
I don’t think their are many in the Cornish movement who would wish to try and impose an identity on anybody else. Unlike the imperial powers of yesteryear meddling with the perceptions people have of themselves and their history is not Mebyon Kernow policy. If people see themselves as Cornish, English, British, European and citizens of planet earth then good for them. I hope each aspect of their identity leads to them having a fulfilling and happy life.
For me after studying part of my history, Cornish history, the words ‘English’ and ‘British’ leave a bitter taste. Based on an understanding of the historic relationship between Cornwall and the Anglo-British imperial project (one telling example) I can’t comfortably use ‘English’ or ‘British’ to describe my identity. It’s my choice and one I wouldn’t impose on anybody else. For the moment ‘European’ doesn’t catch in my throat but if the European project continues to serve our outdated nation states and insane capitalism rather than the people’s of Europe, their multiple cultures and languages then who knows.
Identity is such a profound and personal issue. Lets ensure rather that our children grow up to be authentic individuals and autonomous thinkers so that they might make informed decisions about who they are.