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Policy-Makers and the New World of British Imperialism in the Aftermath of the First World War

Markham, Ben (2016) Policy-Makers and the New World of British Imperialism in the Aftermath of the First World War. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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This is a study of British policy-makers and their perceptions of the Empire immediately after the First World War. It explores the post-1918 crises most frequently noted by historians – the nationalist challenges in Ireland, India and Egypt – and demonstrates how policy-makers came to view these challenges as interconnected. It argues, moreover, for the centrality of the Irish situation in shaping the responses of policy-makers to developments in India and Egypt. The thesis also investigates the impact of phenomena such as black nationalism in the West Indies, growing labour militancy in Britain and the Empire, and the politico-religious movement of pan-Islam. Policy-makers saw these as being enmeshed with one another, and frequently attempted to comprehend or explain them as ‘Bolshevik’ intrigue. Whereas nationalist challenges were viewed through an ‘Irish prism’, these phenomena were viewed commonly through a ‘Bolshevik’ one. Additionally, it is stressed that post-war political and socio-economic unrest was seen to be reverberating across areas of traditional British control, such as the Mediterranean, and newer areas, such as the Middle East. Worries about labour unrest, growing nationalisms and movements such as pan-Islam led to a re-shaping of British policy in these regions. The more autonomous parts of the Empire also presented post-war challenges. Increasing Dominion assertiveness meant that Anglo-Dominion relations changed significantly during this period. It is argued that this shaped key aspects of British military and foreign policy, and influenced Britain’s relationships with, notably, Japan and the United States. In the ‘informal’ Empire in South America, meanwhile, policy-makers registered a rapid decline in British influence immediately the War ended and acquiesced to growing American strength there. The major post-war concerns that are identified were not encountered by policy-makers individually. They were powerfully present simultaneously and were perceived in London as an entangled and interconnected challenge to British imperialism.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Ben Markham
Date Deposited: 06 Mar 2017 14:25
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2022 02:00

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