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Motion Detector No. 8: The United Kingdom 2018

Museum Europäischer Kulturen

Trench coat or kilt? Items of clothing can function as symbols of national identity. The "Motion Detector" at the MEK takes a look at the UK in the aftermath of the “Brexit” vote.

In various parts of Europe, a common phenomenon can be observed: the desire to pull out of overarching political structures. In a referendum held in June 2016, a majority of The United Kingdom voted in favour “Brexit”, to leave the European Union. In Catalonia, the independence movement began to gain increased momentum in autumn of 2017, with tens of thousands seeking to break away from the Spanish state. In Venice and Flanders as well, there are groups demanding independence for their region. The arguments are similar everywhere: that the inherent interests of the people are being violated by national or transnational structures, neglecting the welfare of local communities. To combat this, greater political independence is seen as a way of maintaining unique cultural characteristics, while still flourishing financially.

The “Brexit” decision, which won by a small margin, did not just cause discord in The United Kingdom. It also triggered consternation in the other countries of the EU. The Kingdom of Great Britain was formed in the early 18th century through the amicable union of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland. However given that the majority of the Scottish population voted to remain within the EU, here too there is talk of breaking away and forming an independent Scottish nation state. The idea of such a nation state is based in part upon the imagination of a national community, which distinguishes itself from other nations through its unique cultural characteristics, values and customs. National symbols such as bagpipes or kilts seem to epitomize these characteristics. On the one hand, they foster self-affirmation, but on the other hand, they can also prevent the recognition of commonalities and shared interests within larger contexts.

The "Motion Detector" has established itself as a new format through which the Museum Europäischer Kulturen regularly addresses contemporary issues. The "Motion Detector" is located in the foyer of Arnimallee 25, right next to the entrance.