O’Thomas, Mark (2018) There’ll always be an England – Butlins, Brexit and the Heterotopic Body. Journal of European Popular Culture 9 (1).
This article addresses the role of entertainment and performance in the holiday camp today as a way of understanding its interface with contemporary concerns around the impact of mass immigration and consequent emerging nationalisms. Focussing on the British Butlins holiday camp, which still maintains its original base in the English north-east coastal town of Skegness, the article builds on the work of earlier studies of leisure camps (and camps in general), in locating the function of entertainment as a key engine in driving forward a sense of ‘England’ which is at the same time nostalgic and isolationist. Within the context of the UK referendum result on June 15 2016 to exit the European Union, alongside recent concerns of new manifestations of racism and the marginalisation of foreign nationals working in the UK, the paper addresses the paradox of the use of a mode that has the capacity to engender empathy as a way of objectifying the Other and consolidating a notion of a single sovereign state. Ultimately, while acknowledging the contribution made by contemporary philosophers such as Giorgio Agamben to the field, the paper revisits and finds Foucault’s notion of heterotopias as a more dextrous way of conceiving of the ways in which entertainments are planned, produced and performed at British leisure camps today.
3 April 2018