The Absent-Minded Imperialists: Empire, Society, and Culture in Britain

Paperback | September 15, 2006

byBernard Porter

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The British empire was a huge enterprise. To foreigners it more or less defined Britain in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Its repercussions in the wider world are still with us today. It also had a great impact on Britain herself: for example, on her economy, security,population, and eating habits. One might expect this to have been reflected in her society and culture. Indeed, this has now become the conventional wisdom: that Britain was steeped in imperialism domestically, which affected (or infected) almost everything Britons thought, felt, and did. This is the first book to examine this assumption critically against the broader background of contemporary British society. Bernard Porter, a leading imperial historian, argues that the empire had a far lower profile in Britain than it did abroad. Many Britons could hardly have been aware of it formost of the nineteenth century and only a small number was in any way committed to it. Between these extremes opinions differed widely over what was even meant by the empire. This depended largely on class, and even when people were aware of the empire, it had no appreciable impact on their thinkingabout anything else. Indeed, the influence far more often went the other way, with perceptions of the empire being affected (or distorted) by more powerful domestic discourses. Although Britain was an imperial nation in this period, she was never a genuine imperial society. As well as showing how this was possible, Porter also discusses the implications of this attitude for Britain and her empire, and for the relationship between culture and imperialism more generally, bringing his study up to date by including the case of the present-day USA.

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The British empire was a huge enterprise. To foreigners it more or less defined Britain in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Its repercussions in the wider world are still with us today. It also had a great impact on Britain herself: for example, on her economy, security,population, and eating habits. One might expect this ...

Bernard Porter is an Emeritus Professor of History, University of Newcastle.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:504 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 1.02 inPublished:September 15, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199299595

ISBN - 13:9780199299591

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Table of Contents

1. Empire and Society2. Participation3. The Prefects4. The Middle Classes at School5. Trade, Liberty, and Empire: the Middle Classes to 18806. Not in Front of the Servants7. Culture and Empire8. Peril and Propaganda c.19009. What About the Workers?10. Imperialists, Other Imperialists, and Others11. Empire on Condition 1914-4012. Repercussions13. Recapitulation and ConclusionBibliographyIndex1. Empire and Society2. Participation3. The Prefects4. The Middle Classes at School5. Trade, Liberty, and Empire: the Middle Classes to 18806. Not in Front of the Servants7. Culture and Empire8. Peril and Propaganda c.19009. What About the Workers?10. Imperialists, Other Imperialists, and Others11. Empire on Condition 1914-4012. Repercussions13. Recapitulation and ConclusionBibliographyIndex

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`An outstanding display of the historian's craft.'THES