A New British Subject: The Creation of a Common Ethnicity in Gibraltar

Part of the Palgrave Studies in European Political Sociology book series (PSEPS)


In recent decades, scholars of nationalism have paid increasing attention to the role of ethnicity in the formation of nations. In fact, nationalist narratives often structure the nation around a core ethnic group and a hegemonic language. Nevertheless, there are communities (such as many former colonies) which cannot easily define their nationhood in terms of a shared ethnic background, and Gibraltar is one such example. It offers an exceptional opportunity to shed light on the political strategies for the creation of a discursive common ethnicity from a community with a very culturally diverse background.

With two powerful countries determining their identity, Gibraltarians found it difficult to develop their own national narrative, much less a claim for independence. In the 1940s, however, the Spanish dictator, General Franco, began a campaign to recover Gibraltar, and it was during this campaign that Gibraltarians developed the clearest articulation of their unique collective identity through a nationalist discourse that would make them new British subjects, albeit with their own ethnic peculiarities.

This chapter analyses how a nationalist narrative helped Gibraltarians form their own ethnic identity, incorporating, at least discursively, a diverse ethnic background that would make the Gibraltarian a ‘melting pot’. It explores how political actors gave birth to a new British subject, the Gibraltarian, during the postwar period, and charts the reception of this ideological discourse on the Rock.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of the Basque Country UPV/EHUVizcayaSpain
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of EssexColchesterUK
  3. 3.Université Catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium
  4. 4.Université Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium

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