Feeling ‘Brexit’: Nationalism and the Affective Politics of Movement

Free Public Lecture

Feeling ‘Brexit’: Nationalism and the Affective Politics of Movement

Alan Gilbert Theatre 2
Grattan Street, Parkville


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T: 8344 9395


‘Brexit’ (the UK vote to leave the European Union) reveals the necessity of understanding the role of affect in political life: both in constituting ideas about nationality and in animating the politics of populism. This presentation will discuss what ‘Brexit’ felt like in the year following this vote–held on 23 June 2016–through a theatre performance called ‘The Populars’, created and performed in 2017 by Volcano Theatre, in Swansea (Wales, UK). Drawing on the performance, I address the feelings of shame, hostility and resentment circulating at this time, situate them in relation to the crises of British multiculturalism and rise of populism, before turning to how such feelings were addressed in this performance through movement and dance. In so doing, the article addresses three specific contributions that engaging affect does in this context: first, it forms an invitation to address heightened political feelings; second, it suggests an alternative approach to the politics of knowledge to that enabled by a focus on voter interests or identities; third, it opens up other ways of understanding being in common. Overall, the presentation makes the case for how an affective politics of movement points towards ways of defying the closures of nationalist populism


  • Dr Angharad  Closs Stephens
    Dr Angharad Closs Stephens , Swansea University