Drawing on extensive research in the media archive, Wendy Webster's highly readable study investigates popular narratives of nation, and the significance of empire and its legacies in shaping national identity after What were the tensions and uncertainties involved in defining a post-imperial nation?
How did imperial legacies inform questions about who belonged in Britain and debates about race, immigration and nationality?
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What did the Commonwealth mean? What was the significance of America to the making of a post-imperial nation? Englishness and Empire makes an important and original contribution to recent debates about the domestic consequences of the end of empire.
Wendy Webster explores popular narratives of nation in the mainstream media archive - newspapers, newsreels, radio, film, and television. The contours of the study generally follow stories told through prolific filmic and television imagery: the Second World War, the Coronation and Everest, colonial wars of the s, and Winston Churchill's funeral. The book analyses three main narratives that conflicted and collided in the period - a Commonwealth that promised to maintain Britishness as a global identity; siege narratives of colonial wars and immigration that showed a 'little England' threatened by empire and its legacies; and a story of national greatness, celebrating the martial masculinity of British officers and leaders, through which imperial identity leaked into narratives of the Second World War developed after The book also explores the significance of America to post-imperial Britain.
Englishness and Empire considers how far, and in what contexts and unexpected places, imperial identity and loss of imperial power resonated in popular narratives of nataion. As the first monograph to investigate the significance of empire and its legacies in shaping national identity after , this is an important study for all scholars interested in questions of national identity and their intersections with gender, race, empire, immigration, and decolonization.
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