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The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume V: Historiography$
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Robin Winks

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205661

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205661.001.0001

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Imperial Flotsam? The British in the Pacific Islands

Imperial Flotsam? The British in the Pacific Islands

(p.366) 24 Imperial Flotsam? The British in the Pacific Islands
The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume V: Historiography

Bronwen Douglas

Oxford University Press

This chapter links contemporary British Imperial and colonial texts, produced in and about Oceania, to histories of British activities in the Pacific generally and in Britain’s Pacific Empire, including its offshoots from Australia and New Zealand, in particular. Contemporaneous, academic, and influential popular histories are also considered, across O. H. K. Spate’s ‘two distinct…genera’: ‘Oceanic’ and ‘Insular’. The chapter then argues genealogically, tracing intellectual and political transitions and resemblances, without implying inevitable progression from one generation of historians to ‘successors’. It only traces the contours of the plethora of contemporary Imperial and colonial texts. The Pacific Islands were always insignificant in official British imperialism. ‘Imperial history’ denotes a common focus on the policies, interests, activities, and rivalries of Europeans. It is stated that the British in the Pacific Islands once a dominant historiographic interest, is now passé.

Keywords:   British imperialism, British colonialism, Pacific Islands, Oceania, Pacific Empire, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, historiography

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