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'Loyalty more personal and fervent': Australasian imperial identities, 1892-1902

Connell, Liam (2023) 'Loyalty more personal and fervent': Australasian imperial identities, 1892-1902. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004477


Britain’s Australasian colonies entered the 1890s a disparate group; by 1902 six of them had federated and the last was embarking on apparently quixotic schemes to expand the British empire in the Pacific. In popular history this is a story of emerging national identities; much of the academic scholarship disputes this and can accept that these societies were neither wholly nationalistic yet nor simply British. Both assume that the British Empire was centred upon London, and that therefore any political, cultural or economic move away from that government’s orthodoxy was if not opposition at least a divergence from the Empire itself. The thesis investigates how Victorians, New Zealanders, Queenslanders and the rest saw themselves within the Empire, but also how they defined that Empire. They were not subjects; nor was theirs’ simply a ‘Britannic’ nationalism shared by elites across the self-governing colonies. Rather these were self-confident societies that saw themselves not as the furthest reaches of an Empire, but as the truest defenders of British values. This thesis fuses cultural and political history to show that by 1902 and the formation of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, Australasia had developed not just a distinct set of imperial identities, but an imperial ethos. This is shown through close study of several major Imperial engagements with the wider world in this period: the rise of Japan, the geopolitics of Empire in the south-west Pacific, the South African War, and finally the formalisation of the White Australia policy. By setting colonial responses next to the writings of the leaders of the British government, it becomes apparent that the common language of Empire conceals very different ideas about that empire’s strategic interests and civilisational values.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2023 Liam Connell
Library of Congress subject classification: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Sets: Departments > International History
Supervisor: Best, Antony

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