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Englishness and Empire 1939-1965$
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Wendy Webster

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199226641

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199226641.001.0001

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(p.149) 6 Immigration
Englishness and Empire 1939-1965


Oxford University Press

This chapter shows that stories of colonial wars and immigration set ‘little England’ in opposition to a multiracial Commonwealth. Stories about ‘the colour problem’ invoked national identity as quiet, private, intimate, domestic, and white — Englishness, not Britishness. As the Commonwealth acquired its new meaning of domestic problem, its promise of maintaining and modernizing a globalized British identity and its claim to demonstrate Britain as a tolerant and decent nation clashed with a very different story: Englishness was threatened by empire, by Commonwealth, and by their legacies — not only in empire, but at home.

Keywords:   British culture, immigration, narratives, empire, Commonwealth

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