There is a resurgence of interest in the north of England as a defined unit with its own economic and political needs. The ‘Northern Powerhouse’ is a recent attempt to express this in a future-facing way.
Debates about northern English distinctiveness currently focus on the economy, infrastructure and devolved powers. In this project, by contrast, we investigate northernness as ‘felt identity’, that is to say, a concept with which people identify across the North of England. We are particularly interested in the cultural, historical and linguistic underpinnings of this regional identity. Our research will enable us to think critically about the nature of the region. Issues include the coherence of the ‘North’; the so-called North-South divide; and whether the region has a common heritage.
There is an opportunity to articulate a vision of the North of England as a distinctive unit in terms of its history and future, and our project will feed into those broader discussions.