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The British Public in a Shrinking World: Civic Engagement with the Declining Empire, 1960-1970

Bocking-Welch, Anna (2012) The British Public in a Shrinking World: Civic Engagement with the Declining Empire, 1960-1970. PhD thesis, University of York.

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This thesis analyses how the British public’s interactions with the peoples and places of the empire and Commonwealth changed as a result of decolonization. Its central concern is to determine how issues relating to the empire and its decline became part of everyday ‘local’ experiences within British associational life between 1960 and 1970. It links a rich scholarly tradition of research on the domestic experience of Britain’s empire to a new and emerging field of research that seeks to understand the institutional and associational makeup of the interconnected postwar world. Chapter One looks at the activities of the Royal Commonwealth Society to assess the afterlife of empire as it was lived by those who had been the most involved. Chapter Two looks at the international work of the Women’s Institute in order to consider how groups without a specific Commonwealth remit engaged with the spaces of the declining empire. Chapter Three focuses on an individual enthusiast, Charles Chislett, assessing how the personal experiences of one man might resonate across local networks of sociability and public service. Chapters Four and Five on the United Nations Freedom from Hunger Campaign and Christian Aid consider humanitarian engagements with the decolonizing empire, analysing how international and imperial frameworks overlapped in religious and secular practices of aid and development. Using these case studies, the thesis questions the extent to which the impact of decolonization was necessarily traumatic for the British public by considering alternate, optimistic experiences of international friendship, philanthropy and education taking place within civil society. It argues that we must be wary of overstating the importance of empire and decolonization in the lives of the British public and therefore situates its analysis of civil society firmly within the context of globalization and the sense of living in a ‘shrinking world’ that characterized many engagements with foreign peoples and places.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Decolonization, Empire, Commonwealth, Civil Society, Britain
Academic Units: The University of York > History (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.568116
Depositing User: Ms Anna Bocking-Welch
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2013 15:52
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2016 13:01
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3667

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