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Britain's experience of empire in the twentieth century by Andrew Thompson

By Andrew Thompson

Written by way of experts from a variety of fields, this edited quantity is the 1st systematic research of the effect of imperialism on twentieth-century Britain. The participants discover various features of Britain's imperial event because the empire weathered the storms of the 2 international wars, was once as a result dismantled, after which it appears used to be long past. How greatly used to be the empire's presence felt in British tradition and society? What used to be where of imperial questions in British occasion politics? used to be Britain's prestige as an international energy stronger or underpinned via the lifestyles of its empire? What was once the relation of Britain's empire to nationwide identities in the United Kingdom?

The chapters diversity largely from social attitudes to empire and where of the colonies within the public mind's eye, to the consequences of imperialism for demography, alternate, get together politics and political tradition, executive and overseas coverage, the church buildings and civil society, and the militia. the quantity additionally addresses the attention-grabbing but advanced query of the way, after the formal finish of empire, the colonial previous has endured to impinge upon our post-colonial current, as individuals mirror upon the various ways that the legacies of empire are interpreted and debated in Britain today.

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In the case of naval forces, the situation before the First World War was striking. The First Lord of the Admiralty argued that it was essential for the Navy to be concentrated rather than dispersed worldwide. By November 1907, Britain’s home or Atlantic fleets claimed forty-four of the country’s battleships; the remaining six were assigned to the Mediterranean. None were available for service in the Pacific. 18 This tendency to concentrate forces in home waters increased further as the First World War neared.

Harper and S. Constantine, Migration and Empire: Oxford History of the British Empire Companion Series (Oxford, 2010). 63 Kumar’s chapter on identities coins the phrase ‘banal imperialism’ to explore how collective beliefs, whether revolving around ‘nation’ or ‘empire’, could enter into people’s consciousness in so routine and ordinary a fashion as to go virtually unnoticed, or at least be taken largely for granted. Other contributors reveal how imperial influences have been rendered invisible simply by the passage of time.

The empire of Christ’ often sat uncomfortably with official conceptions of empire. Moreover, within the empire, over time, missionary activity came to focus more on Africa and Asia as the settler colonies chose to recruit their own clergy and lay workers locally. Yet if the ‘imperial culture’ forged by missionary activity was in many ways specific to the churches, it was nonetheless a ‘culture’ that was widely diffused. As Cox contends, under constant pressure to justify its work to home supporters, it was the missionary arm of the imperial enterprise that was often able to penetrate grass-roots society most effectively.

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