Empire’s end? Writers, decolonisation and mid-century BBC home radio

Lodhi, Aasiya (2022) Empire’s end? Writers, decolonisation and mid-century BBC home radio. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis offers a reassessment of British colonial legacy as culture by interrogating the uses and limitations of cultural broadcasting, especially the role played by writers, in the critical period of empire’s official end in the mid-twentieth century. In conjunction with BBC personnel, writers carried significant (though not uncomplicated) agency in imagining and circulating imperial endings, as they unfolded, to those ‘at home’ in Britain through the mass medium of the era, radio. Scrutinising written and sound archives, on-air output and never-broadcast programme ideas, this study examines the varied and at times contradictory ways in which imperial legacy imprinted itself on the cultural shape of Britain through the BBC Home Radio contexts of six major writers. These contexts are situated in the post-war momentum of political decolonisation, from the mid- to late-forties until the mid-sixties, and range across three core regions of British colonial rule in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. The conjunctures of writer, culture, (de)coloniality and the BBC are explored via three sets of pairings: E.M. Forster and Louis MacNeice on friendship and neutrality in relation to the independence of India; Doris Lessing and Muriel Spark on gendered anti-colonial challenges to white settlerdom in Southern Rhodesia; George Lamming and Stuart Hall on the federation of the West Indies and the positionality of Caribbean media intellectuals in a new, emergent black Britain. Empire’s End? argues that literary-cultural broadcasting mediated the transition from imperial rule to the Commonwealth imaginary through a careful modulation of rhetoric and of radio form, one that questioned but ultimately validated Britain’s self-image as a ‘moral empire’. Further, it illustrates the unresolved end of empire through the entanglements between colonial ideology and progressive British culture – of its networks of intermediaries and its institutionalisation through the BBC–revealing links to today’s tussles over imperial heritage, cultural politics and the imperative to ‘decolonise’.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > Media and Film
Subjects: D History > DA History of Great Britain > DA010.5 British Empire. Commonwealth of Nations. The Commonwealth
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2022 08:02
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2022 08:02
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/108135

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