Anxiety and cosmopolitan futures

Brexit and Scotland

by Daniel M. Knight

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Two themes, temporality and cosmopolitanism, repeatedly arose during conversations in Scotland with people who favored remaining in the European Union. The 2016 referendum's result in favor of leaving the European Union has affected how they think about their temporal trajectories and what they might do to maintain their cosmopolitan ideals, which are now deeply shaken. Both Scots and non-UK EU nationals living in Scotland must confront the uncertainty of what impact Brexit will have on the freedom of trade and movement. This uncertainty provokes a new set of anxieties, expectations, and speculations as they contemplate how these changes might affect them personally. They feel especially uncomfortable that cosmopolitanism has become entwined with the nationalist projects of both Edinburgh and London.