Made in Britain

Brexit, teacups, and the materiality of the nation

by Ana Carolina Balthazar

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In the town of Margate, England, there are connections between retirees’ votes to leave the European Union and their practices inside the local secondhand shop. There, objects marked “Made in Britain,” along with the period houses that my interlocutors live in, enable them to connect with a national past and to collectively produce relatedness and a sense of belonging. Like these objects, the “Brexit” referendum on leaving the European Union is for them about “character” and maintaining indexical connections to the past. Their votes in favor of Brexit were more the consequence of a native logic of building connections and an issue of poor political representation than they are about excluding migrants—even if excluding migrants could be one of the outcomes.