How British was the British World? The case of South Africa

Dubow, Saul (2009) How British was the British World? The case of South Africa. Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 37 (1). 1 - 27. ISSN 0308-6534

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This paper discusses the utility of the term 'Britishness' in the context of the 'British World' conference series. It suggests reasons why the 'British world' idea as presently understood was relatively slow to emerge out of traditional nineteenth- and twentieth-century imperial and commonwealth history. Ranging over more than a century from the 1870s to the present, it surveys uses of the term 'British' in imperial historiography and draws most of its empirical evidence from the unusual case of South Africa. The paper eschews 'ethnic' or 'racial' definitions of Britishness and proposes instead a more capacious formulation capable of including elective, hyphenated forms of belonging. It suggests that there are advantages in thinking of the British Empire less in the possessive sense - the empire that belonged to Britain - and more in the adjectival mode as a mode of description capable of taking into account self-declared affinities and values.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DT History of Africa > DT1701 South Africa
Depositing User: Saul Dubow
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:45
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2012 09:10
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