Lucky Thinker: An Interview with Tom Nairn



Hames S & Storrar W (2016) Lucky Thinker: An Interview with Tom Nairn. Scottish Affairs, 25 (4), pp. 436-450.

[Interview with Tom Nairn for Scottish Affairs]  Needing no introduction to readers of Scottish Affairs, Tom Nairn is that very rare thing: an intellectual whose essays and ideas have genuinely transformed political debate. His analysis of Scotland in the UK from The Breakup of Britain in 1977 to Old Nations, Auld Enemies, New Times in 2014 has been seminal in shaping the movement for independence as well as the academic study of nationalism. What is too little known is the intellectual journey that led him to be one of the few thinkers on the left to take nationalism seriously as the modern Janus, a progressive as well as regressive force. In this interview, we retrace the unplanned course of Nairn's thinking from art school to aesthetics, philosophy to politics, nationalism studies to the study of globalisation, Benedetto Croce to Iris Murdoch, Antonio Gramsci to Hamish Henderson, Perry Anderson to the New Left Review. Such interests and friendships took him from Pisa to Hornsey, Amsterdam to Melbourne; yet always circling back north again. The interview concludes with impressions and hesitations on UK ‘nationality politics’ in the weeks prior to the 2015 General Election.

Tom Nairn; New Left; Nationalism; Scottish independence

Scottish Affairs: Volume 25, Issue 4

Publication date30/11/2016
Publication date online11/2016
Date accepted by journal12/05/2016
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Place of publicationEdinburgh

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Dr Scott Hames

Dr Scott Hames

Senior Lecturer, English Studies