The force of events: the ‘Brexit interval’ and popular aspirations for Gibraltarian diplomacy

Jason Dittmer*, Sarah Kunz, et al.

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper highlights both an overreliance on legal perspectives in the study of paradiplomacy at the expense of more dynamic understandings of agency, and also the affective force of waiting and other temporal states on political subject formation. Empirically, it reports the results of a longitudinal study on Gibraltarians’ concerns over the Gibraltar–Spain frontier. By comparing data from two identical surveys conducted a year apart during the period between the Brexit referendum and the (as yet incomplete) legal withdrawal, we trace the force of the incomplete event on political subjectivities. Conceptualizing our findings through assemblage theory and paradiplomacy, we highlight that the intensity of the event has heightened Gibraltarians’ dissatisfaction with their constitutional reliance on the UK to resolve Brexit in a way advantageous for Gibraltar. A minor shift occurred in the year studied towards more agentic proscriptions of what the Government of Gibraltar ought to do to resolve Brexit. Quantitative analysis reveals that younger respondents tend to emphasize this more agentic view, while older respondents tend to advocate further lobbying of the UK or feel Gibraltar has a complete lack of agency. Qualitative analysis of the respondents’ policy proscriptions reveals a complex set of views within each perspective on agency.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalTerritory, Politics, Governance
Early online date19 May 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 May 2020

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