The British in Ceylon, 1815–1960
The shifting and various identities of both official and unofficial members of the British community in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) are explored in this chapter and are revealed to change according to time, place, class, and gender. Planter and administrator shared a common British identity exemplified in the need to differentiate themselves from the indigenous population through such things as dress codes, food, leisure activities all institutionalized in those most iconic symbols of colonial life – the club and hill station. This common identity did not, however, preclude conflict over competing interests and perceptions. The life of British nurses and that of planters' wives and daughters illustrate that what it meant to be white, British and female similarly diverged. Ceylon's long period of decolonization further challenged this constructed and imagined identity. What it meant to be British and colonial is shown to be ambiguous and ever changing.
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