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The British Academy is a learned society based in London, but anxious to spread the views of academics in the humanities and social sciences on the controversial issues of the day to other parts of the country. It is currently convening three major debates – in Birmingham, Liverpool and London – on issues surrounding immigration, particularly to the UK.

Professor Robin Cohen, together with Professor Ian Goldin of the Oxford Martin School, are co-convenors of the debates and both are also participants. In the first debate, in Birmingham on 24 September 2014, focusing on the making of British identity, Robin emphasised how identity formation should be understood from the outside in, rather than from the inside out. He also introduced the ideas of ‘instrumental Britishness’ and ‘reactive ethnicity’. Professor Montserrat Guibernau spoke movingly of the role of emotions in belonging and her understanding of minority nationalism in Catalonia and Scotland. 

The next two immigration debates are in Liverpool, on 16 October 2014, and in London, on 13 November 2014. In Liverpool the political implications of immigration will be discussed, while the final debate will consider the impact of immigration on the British economy. Full details can be found here.