Way back when I started British Isles Friday, I thought about calling it Anglophile Friday. Someone pointed out how limiting that would be. Anglophile means “lover of England.” That rather leaves out the rest of the UK and Ireland.
In my very first British Isles Friday post, I explained the geography and terms used to describe the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and the political entities on them.
I’ve had many occasions to be grateful that I used the more expanded term:
- when Heather visited Cardiff, Wales, including the Doctor Who Experience
- when Jackie shared photos from several trips to Ireland and the UK
- when I learned about the Scottish Independence referendum
I’ve recently learned that the term “British Isles” isn’t quite as inclusive as I hoped. The Republic of Ireland refuses to use that term in any government document because the term invokes a superiority/inferiority complex — the bigger island of Great Britain lording it over the smaller island of Ireland.
Some folks argue for the term “Atlantic Archipelago,” but I think that’s way too Euro-centric. There are many other archipelagos in the Atlantic, including:
- The Bahamas, east of Florida and Cuba
- Cabo Verde, west of the Cape Verde Peninsula in West Africa
- The Canary Islands, west of Morocco
“British Isles” remains the most used term, so I’ll probably stick to that for my Friday event, but I’m starting to use “The UK and Ireland” more when I talk about it. That has a less poetic ring, for me, but has the advantage of accuracy.
I still identify as an Anglophile even though the superiority complex within the British Isles is only the beginning of that story. I learned from Sugar in the Blood by Andrea Stuart how that superiority complex was inherited by the US via Barbados and continues, to this day, to impact our ability to let go of racism and live up to the highest American ideals.
I was relieved to discover that Nelson Mandela also identified as an Anglophile in his autobiography, The Long Walk to Freedom:
I confess to be something of an Anglophile. When I thought of Western democracy and freedom, I thought of the British parliamentary system. In so many ways, the very model of the gentleman for me was an Englishman….While I abhorred the notion of British imperialism, I never rejected the trappings of British style and manners. p. 302
Love is complicated. I can live with a complicated relationship when the positives includes tweeds and black umbrellas, stately homes and picturesque ruins, amazing museums and great literature. My A to Z posts in April will cover the things I love about the UK and Ireland.
For everyone who is celebrating spring today or wishing for it, here’s a video of an actor with a beautiful voice and a British accent reading my favorite poem by William Wordsworth: