‘A Vertiginous Sense of Impending Loss’: Four Nations History and the Problem of Narrative



This chapter argues that four nations history arose out of a conviction that the United Kingdom was experiencing a period of national decline or dissolution and that this perspective on the past has continued to shape historical narratives. It also argues that this perspective has narrowed the kind of questions asked. Three specific areas are examined as a way of exploring this problem: state development, identity formation and transnational history. The chapter suggests that a multi-centred, asymmetric history of Britain and Ireland captures the complexities of modern history more fully than one framed in terms of national decline or disintegration.


United Kingdom Historical narrative State development Identity formation Transnational history 

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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aberystwyth UniversityAberystwyth, CeredigionWales, UK

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