The Crisis of Brexit and Other Socio-Cultural Aspects of Silencing the Past through the Example of Anna Burns’ Milkman

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Marta Frątczak-Dąbrowska
Joanna Jarząb-Napierała


The present article scrutinizes the phenomenon of a systemic silencing of the past visible in recent socio-political challenges caused by Brexit, especially in the case of the Irish border. Due to the comparative character of the paper, the attention is targeted at a symptomatic amnesia manifested on the British and Northern Irish sides. Postcolonial melancholia, to use Paul Gilroy’s term, facilitated by a systemic whitewashing of British imperial past, is contrasted here with Northern Irish postcolonial amnesia understood as a personal and institutionalised suppression of the difficult memory of colonisation and violence. In what follows, the paper aims to show how these two phenomena meet in the conflict of Brexit and how literature comments on the current political, social and cultural issues such as Brexit based on the example of Anna Burns’ novel Milkman (2018). The article discusses the silence which has surrounded the issue of the Irish Border in Brexit debates, as well as looks at the Northern Irish reluctance to talk about their past as an unsuccessful attempt to escape the demons of the past.


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How to Cite
Frątczak-Dąbrowska, M., & Jarząb-Napierała, J. (2021). The Crisis of Brexit and Other Socio-Cultural Aspects of Silencing the Past through the Example of Anna Burns’ Milkman. Porównania, 30(3), 179-189.
Author Biographies

Marta Frątczak-Dąbrowska, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań

Marta Frątczak-Dąbrowska is an assistant professor at the Faculty of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland. She gained her PhD in postcolonial studies and is currently working on a research project sponsored by the National Science Centre, Poland. Her articles were published in journals such as Commonwealth Essays and Studies, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, Nordic Journal of English Studies, Studia Anglica Posnaniensia. Her latest chapter is part of the collection entitled The Economics of Empire: Genealogies of Capital and the Colonial Encounter (Routledge 2021).

Joanna Jarząb-Napierała, Adam Mickiewicz University

Joanna Jarząb-Napierała is an assistant professor at the Faculty of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland. She is the author of a monograph Houses, towns, cities – the changing perception of space and place in contemporary Irish novels (2016) and a co-author of a monograph Between the Self and the Other. Essays on the Poetry of Paul Muldoon (2018). Currently she is working on a project “Irish cosmopolitanism – the case of Russian literary and cultural influence on the development of new Irish prose” financed by the National Science Centre, Poland.


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