Archives de catégorie : Billets

Mixing Asian and English studies: is that possible?

Even though it is not mandatory, the best way to achieve a satisfying piece of work is to find a subject that is both motivating for the student and relevant for a master’s thesis. However, one needs to be careful not to be carried away by their affinity with their subject, since it can also be a trap. Emotions can influence one’s work and as a result a student may end up lacking objectivity. Nonetheless, combining various hobbies or even aspects in one’s paper remains a possibility: the key is to find the proper way to link them together, although sometimes it can be difficult to achieve.

The advantage, in my case, is that civilisation is about using other disciplines, such as human sciences, to understand History. I personally decided to deal with Korea and the United States because I am interested in both Korean history and culture and American civilisation/history. It could have been other Asian countries such as Japan or Vietnam which are linked to the United States, since they shared common history at some point, but I had a little more affinity with Korea. It may seem odd to pick an Asian country for an essay in Anglophone studies, but I think it worth digging into other countries’ history to better our understanding of another country through international relations. In my case, I used the Korean perspective to better my understanding of American history.

As afore-mentioned, objectivity has a predominant place in research. I went to South Korea four times and I have a particular relation with this country, which is why I must take some distance from my topic so that my paper won’t be too tainted by my personal bias. Something that could link these two countries was to be found in the Korean peninsula. I thought of an event which involved them both: the Cold War, and more specifically the Korean War. International relations between the United States, South Korea and North Korea are important in maintaining peace in Asia: The omnipresent threat of North Korea missiles and nuclear tests are something very significant at the moment. This explains why some American soldiers are still deployed in South Korea and stationed at the US military base in Itaewon, Seoul.

Even though I decided to link Asian and English studies, it was a given that doing so was giving me a lot of work as I had to look for Korean sources in addition to other types of sources. What I mean by “Korean sources” is that I had to look into documents written by Korean authors to have a different point of view from American authors. These sources may not be written in English or translated from Korean, so it is one of the hardships I had to cope with. Official documents would be very interesting to read too but my Korean skills are not enough to understand these and I would have to go to South Korea to find them. To get round the language barrier I would advise to start with basic knowledge of the language and/or have a native speaker that can help the student understand such sources. It may seem hard, but it is nothing compared to the pleasure I had while studying various perspectives, from one country to another, on the same issue. Tensions between North Korea and the United States are growing and so the situation is changing rapidly. But, at the same time, the advantage is that there are some types of documents I would have probably never looked at without the recent events that occurred with North Korea, such as hearings about the sanctions taken against North Korea and China by the Congress.

Keywords: United States, Korea, civilisation, studies, Asian, English

House of Representatives. “Sanctions, Diplomacy, and Information: Pressuring North Korea.” Foreign Affairs Committee (Dec. 9, 2017).

LERMAsteriales 2018 : Révolution(s)

This year, the 7th edition of the LERMAsteriales was embedded in a specific context defined by student protest movements. The day before, a blockade had been organised in the Guyon Lecture Hall to oppose the ORE Act. How fitting a context to hold a study day revolving around the theme of Revolution(s). Once again, linking our research projects with this year’s theme was the major concern for us students, and once again the answer lay in the division of the guiding theme into seven sub-themes, each one being associated with a panel.

The concept of revolution was first considered as the idea of subversion in a panel chaired by Clémentine Garcenot, followed by the second panel, chaired by Antonin Premilleu, the focus of which was the idea of revolution as an astronomical movement, a cyclical return. In the following panels, chaired, respectively, by Caroline Barsacq, Pierre-Louis Pietri and Débora Valentin, other meanings attached to the notion of revolution were studied: the speakers dealt with the idea of evolution and transition, of revolution and innovation and the crises of representation. The penultimate panel, chaired by Manon Bouscasse, focused on the idea of challenging the authority. Finally, the closing panel, chaired by Déborah Halifa, reviewed some instances of silent revolutions.

A simple summary of these panels would not suffice to do justice to the real impact the LERMAsteriales have on the students, though. For this purpose, one must look back at the way this study day was presented to us, and at the emphasis put on its significant influence on our academic progress. For the first time in our studies, we had to organise a major group project with a manifold purpose: we were asked to show the progress and results of our research projects, but also demonstrate our ability to match them with this year’s guiding theme and link them together. We were also asked to take care of the organisation and make sure the day would unfold in an orderly fashion. Finally, and I believe this was the most important aspect of this event, we were asked, for the first time, to behave as professional researchers, in a professional context.

With the benefit of hindsight, none would deny the fact that this experience was beneficial for us, on several levels. We were encouraged to improve our teamwork abilities and our organisational skills, but also our capacity to stand up and speak out in public. The LERMAsteriales were the very first steps we took into the teaching/research career, hence I believe it was meant to professionalise us, rather than being a mere final oral assessment. Its ultimate purpose, then, is to make us look ahead at our professional career, and not back on our academic course. Rather than a closing ceremony, the LERMAsteriales, each year, are a stepping stone.

How Did Charles Burton Barber Showcase Victorian Identity Through His Paintings?

The 19th century, often remembered as the Victorian Era, is known for the drastic changes that took place in British society. With the industrial revolution, the ancestral feudal system had been shattered and new classes emerged. The new and increasingly powerful working and middle classes wanted to climb the social ladder of a very hierarchical society in order to share the same values and lifestyles than the upper-classes. These aspirational ideals inspired many artists who started to paint traditional images of Victorian life.

Such is the case of Charles Burton Barber (1845-1894), a Norfolk born painter who became famous thanks to his talent for sentimental paintings of children and dogs which perfectly captured the Victorian mood and exemplified the country’s transformations that took place during this period. After studying at the London Royal Academy, Barber excelled in the realist movement and was commissioned by Queen Victoria to do paintings of her grandchildren and her dogs which allowed him to become very popular. In fact, images and stories of children were very appealing to the Victorians for at the time the family was the structural backbone of English society. Therefore, painting children in such a wonderfully realistic way was a guarantee for the artist to sell his works.

Off to School

Off to School (1883) is a beautiful example of Charles Burton Barber’s taste for details and desire to construct a Victorian identity. In this painting there are two characters, a young girl and her huge dog walking her to school. And indeed, the 19th century is famous for the important changes that took place in education and schooling matters. Some private and therefore selective schools were turned into public schools and girls started to have the possibility to study after the opening for example of North London Collegiate in 1850 or Cheltenham Ladies’ College in 1858. Moreover the 1870 and 1880 Education Acts really launched mass education by making school attendance compulsory for children from 5 to 10 years old who all needed to be taught the famous 3Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic. Therefore, if the little girl in Off to School existed, as she seems to be between 7 and 10 years old, it is possible that she would be amongst the first generation of little girls attending compulsory school.

With his paintings, Charles Burton Barber perfectly captures the Victorian frame of mind. By focusing on the innocence and tenderness of young boys and girls with their pets, the artist illustrates the general classless affection for children and animals. The dog who proudly leads her mistress to school in Off to School is guiding her towards a better life where she will be educated and independent and therefore maybe he metaphorically leads Britain towards a better future in which there would be no gender or class distinctions but where everyone would have equal rights. Other artists, contemporaries to Barbers, have tried to satisfy the Victorians’ desire for child-related and sentimental works by concentrating on the same subjects. Such is the case of two London born painters, Sir Edwin Landseer (1802-1873) and Arthur John Elsley (1860-1952) who both, along with Barber, helped to build a Victorian identity – that is one of positive metamorphosis and progress.


The painting featured as a header is entitled Suspense
The pictures used are in public domain.

LERMAsteriales 2017: Rémanences

Julia Bongiorno and Nicolas Locks

Both feared and longed-for by the Master students, the LERMAsteriales are study days organized by the students themselves, with an audience comprising academics and fellow students. This year’s guiding theme for the 6th edition of the event was ‘Rémanences’, which could be translated, remanence or retentivity. It goes without saying that the topic in itself was not an easy task to deal with. However, due to the numerous interpretations of the term, the papers were varied and truly interesting.

For instance, Celia Bourcy’s paper was entitled ‘Vestiges d’influences linguistiques et historiques dans les langues artistiques’. During this presentation, Celia talked about how Tolkien used different languages and historical events to create new languages, featured for example in The Lord of The Rings. Emmanuelle Bontemps’ was based on a civilization topic entitled ‘Rémanences de la vision impérialiste sur la représentation de l’Afrique contemporaine’: this added a historical aspect to the term ‘rémanence’. Later during the day, Simon Pasquini spoke about ‘La voyelle STRUT dans le système chanté et les accents du nord des Île britanniques : témoin d’un accent rémanent?’: how people tend to change the way they pronounce vowels when they sing. Within the last panel, Miriam Haddjeri talked about ‘Les rémanences au service de la cause abolitionniste dans Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl d’Harriet Jacobs’, the subject of her paper being slavery.

The speakers were grouped by panels formed by associating their research content under a sub-theme. The panels were arranged in such a way that all the disciplines—literature, history, phonology, translation and linguistics—were merged to illustrate the complexity of the theme ‘Rémanence’, which proved to be an interdisciplinary concept. Thus, the whole range of English studies was represented, and it offered us the opportunity of discovering research in other disciplines.

As you may have guessed, thorough rehearsals were in order before the big event, alone at home or in group sessions. Not only were our papers grouped within a panel but also within the whole conference, which means that they had to be in accordance with those of our fellow students.

A particularly interesting task was the selection of the conference image that went on publicity material. Since we participated in all aspects of the conference, with the help of Mrs Page and the doctoral students, some students volunteered to create posters of their own. They were quite well done all in all and a vote decided which one was to be selected.

The LERMAsteriales was a great opportunity for us. Indeed, it allowed us to organize a workshop and to go from attendees to participants.

Looking back on this experience, we were reminded how important it is to collaborate with colleagues, learning from and supporting each other in order to play a part in academic work.

Brussels Book Fair

The Brussels Book Fair that took place from 9th to 13th of March 2017 is one of the major national events for French-speaking publishing houses. For visitors, it is a unique chance to buy all kinds of books in the same place: everything from the classics to children’s literature including crime novel, romance and detective novels, comics or even specialized works on architecture, photography or translation. Visitors also have the chance to participate in seminars on various topics: creative writing workshops, conferences on the book industry, the role of France within the E.U., the role of women within children’s literature etc. Yet more importantly, this book fair is a unique chance for editors and publishing houses to make a name for themselves.

As a trainee for the Imbernon publishing house located in La Cité Radieuse in Marseille, I had the chance to participate in the Brussels Book Fair. I shared a stand with the Peinture Fraîche bookshop team and together we represented ten other publishers and paper manufacturers: Aparté, Fonds Mercator, Frémok, Louis Vuitton, Prisme, Bec en l’air, Parenthèses, Cercle d’art, Graphius Printing and Arctic Paper. The building we were in was divided into four halls in a row, and we were on the last stand. Although being last was somehow a disadvantage – as people were here for spontaneous purchases and therefore spent their money on the previous rooms – having a spot in such a popular event gave us a chance to make people aware of who we are and what we do.

In addition to working for Imbernon editions and the Peinture Fraîche bookshop, it was also the opportunity to have publishers know about me and my work. As a translation student wishing to become a translator, or at least to work for a publishing house, meeting all these publishers allowed me to talk about my academic background and my professional project. It is usually quite difficult to get in touch with publishers directly, but being present at the same Book Fair, and all the more as a professional and not as a regular job seeker, publishers were more responsive. For instance, I met a publisher working for a children’s literature publishing house who asked me to send her my personal translations to have a look at them. I also met a young woman who wishes to open a publishing house for children’s books and therefore who was interested in my work.

Thus, having the chance to do an internship within my university cursus opened up many possibilities, and participating in this Book Fair turned them into opportunities. The master ACMA (Aire Culturelle du Monde Anglophone) being oriented to finding work afterwards, it offered this internship possibility and I was the first student to benefit from it. This opportunity should be promoted again for the years to come, as students who are interested in translation and book-related jobs will benefit from a first experience will gain a very valuable glance at the professional world, which is highly enriching.


Keywords : Brussels – Book Fair  – Imbernon Publisher – Internship

Student Crisis: Anxiety

One of the many challenges facing a student is to try and handle anxiety. Everyone will be subjected to anxiety at least once in their life, and it can be a terrible experience. Anxiety stems from a wide variety of factors, not only from exams, or from juggling between studies and work. Some people are able to control that state of stress, others cannot overcome it. The problem occurs when this stress becomes counterproductive.

Stress can be a source of strength: sometimes it helps us reach the goals we have set for ourselves. As students, we often get anxious when we are going to be evaluated, and this apprehension can drive us to study and succeed. It can also help us focus on the subject, and even try to go into greater detail and do extra research.

Stress can also be challenging, and it is sometimes hard to overcome. It can be an obstacle in our lives, thus affecting our studies and our mental state. As students, we have all been subjected, one day, to some sort of anxiety crisis that troubled us during an exam, making us forget the courses we knew by heart, or preventing us from managing our time. It can also make us stutter during oral exams, making us forget our words. Therefore, one of the things we should learn, as soon as possible, is how to handle that stress so it does not become our biggest weakness.

We all noticed during our years at university that one of the main triggers to anxiety in our lives is the outcome of our work, not only our grades or our appreciations, but also to what job it will lead us. This fear of not knowing what tomorrow will bring can be destabilizing. Some of us are not sure what they will do next while others are not sure how to succeed in what they want to do.

We carried out a survey about anxiety at university in March 2017. It was first conceived for students from L1 to M2 who attended English courses, and the goal was to know how many students were subjected to anxiety or stress. In one week, two hundred people answered the survey, among whom a hundred and ninety-nine were subjected to stress. Their first source of stress were exams (59,4%), their second was homework and classes (22,8%), and their third was having to reconcile their job with their study (8,6%). 72,5% of them said that they were also subject to anxiety, 54,5% affirmed that they already had had panic attacks, and 28,5% admitted that it went as far for them as depression. The most striking aspect of this survey was the amount of students who felt good about being asked about their condition: anxiety and stress are subjects they felt should be tackled more, thus they were pleased with the creation of this survey. Some students suggested that there should be a counselor available in the university for times of crisis, other proposed to create a support committee which would help people in need and show them that anxiety can be overcome.

Keywords: anxiety, stress, handling anxiety, studying.


  • What year are you in?
  • Have you already experienced stress?
  • With what frequency?
  • What is your main source of stress?
  • Have you ever suffered from anxiety?
  • If yes, in what situation?
  • Have you ever had panic attacks?
  • If yes, in what situation and with what frequency?
  • Have you ever gone into depression because of stress?
  • If yes, could you explain more?
  • Would you like to add something (experience, advise, details, remarks, opinion, etc.)?

Music in the student’s environment

Less than half of the population in France play a musical instrument. Most students nowadays acknowledge immersing themselves in a musical environment for at least two hours each day and youngest people are regular attendees at concerts and musical events.

According to an informal investigation run among the Master students this year, we’ve found that the majority of students listen to music every day when going to work. Fewer would rather listen to music at home at the end of the day. In fact, listening to music or practicing an instrument appears to be a useful means to relax, allowing students to isolate themselves before an important event or sitting an exam. Others have suggested that music stimulates their brain and brings them motivation to accomplish the tasks of the day.

As for completing university assignments while listening to music, 80% of students acknowledge doing so. Most of them express a preference for a certain style of music according to the type of academic activity in which they are engaged.

For instance, classical music holds a major role in students’ working atmosphere. It has the advantages of not being harsh and of not having lyrics to which the attention is too often attracted.

When doing research for an essay or a presentation, students would rather listen to instrumental music  (classical music, soft music or jazz). Some of them also listen to movie soundtracks, but they rarely listen to rock or metal since most of these styles include songs and thus lyrics which can influence their writing.

When summarizing courses, most of the student will still avoid listening to songs, but they do have diverging opinions on listening to soft or rhythmic music. It rather depends on the importance and the subject of the course. Yet, when revising their courses for an exam, the majority recommends not to listen to any kind of music. They would rather choose a quiet environment so that their mind can entirely focus on the subject.

Alongside stimulating thinking abilities, music has a scientifically proven effect on our linguistic acquisitions (perception and oral expression) through the process of singing*. This is the reason why reading aloud or singing when learning a course can be quite useful for people having an auditive memory. Some of the students use this method.

93% of students, either professional or hobbyist singers, sing (quite often, if not everyday) in any familiar environment (kitchen, bathroom…). Besides, singing opens the rib cage, works on the breathing process and lays down the rhythm of speech. This is therefore quite useful for oral performances in a lecture or for those wishing to become teachers.

Therefore, merging studies with music is not only beneficial for most M.Phil students but it also directly contributes to their academic accomplishments.


*Called ‘musicotherapy’ (Frégaville-Arcas, O. (2010). Musique sur ordonnance, Science et santé, 0 32-33), dealing with linguistic troubles and psychological traumas through the process of listening to music and singing.

The art of balancing work and studies

It is well known that the student lifestyle can be a bit of a financial struggle. In this regard many students have to work at the same time as they attempt to pass degrees. 56% of  the students who answered our survey “
balancing work and studies” that was carried out on March 17th 2017 said they worked part-time during their studies, versus 18% who work either full-time, or part-time during the holidays, whether this be during the bachelor’s or the master’s degree. Juggling between work and studies appears to be a recurring struggle of student life, the task however is finding a job that does not interfere with one’s studies. When asked what type of jobs they carry out, the survey brought forward the fact that students tend to go for ‘‘odd jobs’’ here and there, meaning taking what they can find. Retail and catering (40%) were at the top of the list, but tutoring and childcare came close behind. Students do not often have the choice of a dream job and go for what happens to be around; be it working in a bank, cleaning hotels or summer jobs; this due to the complicated task of finding jobs in other fields that accommodate to university hours.

This being said, we have yet to tackle the whole debacle of balancing studies and a job. For those doing their first degree it would appear that it is easier to manage, attendance being a choice and not mandatory. For the master’s degree, it is not the same. Your presence being obligatory, it introduces a new element to the equation: work/studies. For the majority of those who answered the survey, their timetables do not overlap (62% no, 37% yes). They have been able to conciliate working hours and university demands, this due to an understanding boss or flexible hours. For the less fortunate, those who still have to balance the two, the options are not numerous. Some have to turn down work hours, which obviously impacts their financial situation. Others have to miss classes, and have to provide justification for their absence. Professors are generally very understanding and do what they can to make the situation easier for everyone.

There is a final case to consider: that of those who do not miss work or classes, but at the expense of free time and rest. Some students will go from university straight to work, their hours do not overlap but that does not leave much space to get things done. This results in some very long nights of work and eventual pleas for extra time to hand in assignments. Although this represents a very small percentage of those questioned for the survey, it is still a position certain students have to face and that deserves recognition. It remains a rare situation and only a few reach the point of ‘‘when am I expected to get this paper done, revise and do my job efficiently? Oh and what does the sun look like?’’ and thus their job does not negatively impact their studies and vice versa, this also being an issue to face.

Student life can be tricky and this without having the strain of financial struggle, carrying out successfully both a job and studies is a task that requires a tremendous amount of implication. ‘‘Working as well as studying requires a lot of organization and knowing what you can and can’t do”, this comment from the survey perfectly captures the debacle of such a situation, in these words lies the key to the art of balancing work and studies, knowing your limits and not biting off more than you can chew!

Zotero, or your best friends when it comes to bibliography and organising your references


Writing a thesis or a dissertation is a very meticulous and complex task. Indeed, you have to find the perfect outline, write something you and your supervisor are happy with, limit yourself to a certain length, and add references, among other things. But references are not always easy to use, because the bibliographic norms that you should respect will not be the same if you study literature, civilisation, or linguistics. You also have to pay attention to the edition, to the type of media you are quoting, and even to punctuation.

But what if I told you that there was a software that could take care of everything that has to do with references for you?

This software is called Zotero. It is a free and open-source program that will help you manage references and bibliographic data. Although it is not well-known by students, it is a very helpful tool that is easy to use and that can save you time and provide perfect norms and references.

Once Zotero is installed on your computer, you will find it in your browser’s toolbar. It means that every time you read an interesting article, the only thing you will have to do is click the Zotero logo, and the article’s reference will be added to your database.

In the same way, every time you want to quote a book, all you have to do is add a few information such as the author, the edition, or the pages you consulted in Zotero (you can add up to 27 pieces of information for each entry), and the software will record them, thus creating an electronic library of everything you used to write your thesis or dissertation.

Once the information about a book (or an article, a TV show etc.) is in Zotero, you can add personal notes about it, thus allowing you to have them with you all the time (as opposed to revision cards that can be lost or damaged).  Thanks to the synchronisation option, you can use your Zotero account on different computers and even on your smartphone.

Finally, once everything is recorded and you want to create a bibliography, all you have to do is click the “create a bibliography” option, select the norm you want to use (APA, CMS, MLA…), and paste it to your dissertation or thesis.

Thus, you have a perfect list of references, with all the information needed, correct punctuation, and all of the works consulted during the writing of your dissertation.

Since the software is often updated, it will never make a mistake, and so you will only have to focus on your research.

Another option that is available on Zotero is the creation of research groups, that allows members to share their research library and to communicate with each other.

You can find the software on, it is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

To get or not to get


The question is, should we use the verb ‘get’ or are there good reasons for avoiding it?

According to the British National Corpus, ‘get’ is the fourth most common verb in British speech and the tenth in writing, so if you have managed to improve your English to native speaker level, shouldn’t you be reflecting this distribution in your pattern of speech and writing?

Consider its versatility: it combines with most grammatical classes: ‘get a degree’, ‘get up in the morning’, ‘get ready’, ‘get on the bus’ and ‘get going’. It can be causative: ‘get her a present’, ‘get them up’, ‘get him ready’, ‘get it in the car’, ‘get the students working’. Then, it’s used extensively for possession and physical attributes: ‘she’s got a beautiful smile’. And it’s almost achieved auxiliary verb status through passive constructions: ‘he got accepted’, not to mention a panoply of idioms.

‘Get’ is clearly the superpower of verbs. So why the reluctance to use it?

What about its pedigree?

Well, according to the OED, ‘get’ first appeared in an English text around 1200 (The Ormulum). From then on, it occurs regularly: 41 times in Wycliffe’s Bible (c. 1395) and about 300 times in the works of Shakespeare. Its meaning evolved from active obtaining to passive obtaining (i.e. receiving) and then on to locative uses, eg. Hamlet’s famous “get thee to a nunnery” line, and so on. Over the centuries it has come to prove itself a most authentic English verb.

Is it too complicated for non-native speakers?

When using a foreign language, we tend to stick to the verbs which are similar in our own language. But ‘get’ has no equivalent in many other languages (Viberg, 2002). This incompatibility renders it difficult for non-native speakers to master.

What does it really mean?

You may have wondered what ‘get’ actually means in a lot of constructions; it usually isn’t ‘obtain’! Well, to give you a clue, I would suggest focussing on change. The value of ‘get’ often indicates ‘the emergence of a new state’ (Gronemeyer, 1999). And the nature of this new state (possession, position, condition or process) is inferred by the choice of arguments and the context. (Another article might be required to explain this better!). Anyway, once the mechanism has been acquired, using it requires less brain power than seeking alternative verbs.

Is it appropriate for scholarly works?

So, assuming that you manage to master ‘get’ (which is a good idea), the question remains: is it suitable for scholarly works? Well, since meaning is inferred by its arguments and the context, this fundamentally detracts from its performance as a precise lexeme for literary or scientific use.


The popularity of ‘get’ lies in its requiring minimum effort for those who master its mechanism. Since ‘get’ is one of the most common verbs in English, it’s worth getting to grips with it. However, it has poor semantic content, lacks explicitness and so, for precise and scholarly writing, it should probably be used sparingly.


The British National Corpus. version 3 (BNC XML Edition). 2007. Web 1 May 2016

« get, v. » OED Online. Oxford University Press, December 2016. Web. 30 December 2016.

Gronemeyer, Claire. “On deriving complex polysemy: The grammaticalization of get.”

English Language and Linguistics 3.1 (1999): 1-39. Print.

Noble, Terry, John Wycliffe, and John Purvey. Wycliffe’s Bible: comprising of Wycliffe’s Old Testament and Wycliffe’s New Testament (revised edition). Vancouver: Terence P. Noble, 2012. Print.

The Ormulum. Ed., Robert Meadows White. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1852. Web 18 May 2016.

Viberg, Åke. “Basic verbs in second language acquisition”. Revue française de linguistique appliquée. 2 Vol. VII (2002): 61 à 79. Print

Scotland’s vote on Brexit: How local politics play a role in European integration

On October, 14th 2016, AMU hosted an OREMA seminar called “The Politics and Geopolitics of Brexit.” I attended it, hoping to grasp what I had missed regarding the outcome of the June 23rd referendum. Not only did the speakers fulfill my expectations but their presentations provided me with material to better understand the inner difficulties of the European Union as a political project. One point made by Pr. Gilles Leydier* can especially illustrate this. As a specialist of Scotland and the SNP he argued that the vote against Brexit was less a declaration of love for the EU than a good old-fashioned political move to increase their power within the UK polity.

Affiche promotionnelle, Création & Impression : DEPIL/PSI – Imprimerie d’Aix-Marseille Université – Aix-en-Provence

In spite of the results, 62% voted to remain (success across the political board, Labour 75%, SNP 66%, Conservatives 56%) something else was at play. Just as most pro EUish (just about anyone who is remotely in favor to some degree of a union) French newspapers, like here ( I had considered Scotland as ‘Europhile’ because I had overlooked what it meant, politically and the short term, to vote to remain.

Pr. Leydier, reminded the audience that the first referendum had been possible because the British Parliament had granted the legal means for the Scottish government to set up a referendum on their own. He continued by pointing out that the path to a second referendum would be unlikely because the legal window was soon to close. The Scottish government would need to ask the British Parliament for their consent which would, in turn, be unlikely as the Scottish people had just had their referendum, and voted to remain in the UK.

However, M. Leydier explained, that the SNP having been voted in on the basis of an Independence agenda, the unexpected outcome of Brexit provided them with a golden opportunity to threaten and pressure England into giving them as much autonomy as possible. To do so, the SNP government could frame the English Brexit vote as a threat to their vital interests and to back their claim for independence, all the while knowing that they did not have the legal means to deliver on their threats.

This may seem a matter of details but for anyone like me who grew up full of hope regarding the European Union, the current state of affairs seems gloomy to say the least. Europhiles from all parties have had difficulties in coming up with a way to deal with European political integration and the ‘loss’ of national sovereignty. The case of Scotland’s behavior at the outcome of Brexit brings a new way to understand this. It hints at the dual nature of the EU policies. They may be framed by the ruling parties of each member state as either domestic (legitimate) or foreign (invasive, infringing on national sovereignty). Therefore, the attachment shown by Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, to the EU all the while spiting its metropole, can account for the tendency of EU members to use the EU in local political equations. The problem being that this behavior inevitably contributes to the EU’s recurring instability.

*Professor at the University of Toulon, specialized in British and Scottish politics, here is a link to his full profile: