Winding up the British Empire in the Pacific Islands

Paperback | November 12, 2016

byW. David McIntyre

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Little has been written about when, how and why the British Government changed its mind about giving independance to the Pacific Islands. Using recently opened archives, Winding Up the British Empire in the Pacific Islands gives the first detailed account of this event. As Britain began todissolve the Empire in Asia in the aftermath of the Second World War, it announced that there were some countries that were so small, remote, and lacking in resources that they could never become independent states. However, between 1970 and 1980 there was a rapid about-turn. Accelerateddecolonization suddenly became the order of the day. Here was the death warrant of the Empire, and hastily-arranged independence ceremonies were performed for six new states - Tonga, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Kiribati, and Vanuatu. The rise of anti-imperialist pressures in the United Nations had a major role in this change in policy, as did the pioneering examples marked by the release of Western Samoa by New Zealand in 1962 and Nauru by Australia in 1968. The tenacity of Pacific Islanders in maintaining their cultures was incontrast to more strident Afro-Asia nationalisms. The closing of the Colonial Office, by merger with the Commonwealth Relations Office in 1966, followed by the joining of the Commonwealth and Foreign Offices in 1968, became a major turning point in Britain's relations with the Islands. In place oflong-nurtured traditions of trusteeship for indigenous populations that had evolved in the Colonial Office, the new Foreign and Commonwealth Office concentrated on fostering British interests, which came to mean reducing distant commitments and focussing on the Atlantic world and Europe.

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Little has been written about when, how and why the British Government changed its mind about giving independance to the Pacific Islands. Using recently opened archives, Winding Up the British Empire in the Pacific Islands gives the first detailed account of this event. As Britain began todissolve the Empire in Asia in the aftermath o...

W. David McIntyre was educated at Peterhouse, Cambridge, the University of Washington, Seattle, and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. After teaching for the Universities of Maryland, British Columbia, and Nottingham, he became Professor of History at the University of Canterbury New Zealand between 1966 ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.01 inPublished:November 12, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198794673

ISBN - 13:9780198794677

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Table of Contents

PrefaceProloguePART I: Oceania Overview1. 'Imperialism, as such, is a newly coined word': Empire and Oceania2. 'The task of "Empire-Unbuilding" is a Difficult One': Decolonization3. 'Britain's Withdrawal East of Suez is also a Withdrawal West of Panama'. The End in the Pacific: When, Why, and How?PART II: Holding On4. 'A Dramatic and Liberal Gesture': Attlee's Secret Smaller Territories Enquiry, 1949-515. 'Limbo', 'Mezzanine Status', and 'Independence Minus': Self-Government within the Commonwealth6. 'Something of a Profit and Loss Account': Macmillan's Audit of Empire and Aftermath, 1957-60PART III: Letting Go7. 'The Cold War Front is Advancing Upon Oceania': Pressures from the United Nations, 1960-618. 'To Complete the Process of Decolonization as soon as Possible': Whitehall's Response to the UN Declaration, 1962-649. 'Coming to the Most Difficult Period of Decolonization': The Lady Margaret Hall Conference, 196510. 'A Line Would have to be Drawn Somewhere': Oceania and the Paradox of the Expanding United Nations, 1965-68PART IV: Winding Up11. 'The British Empire is Past History'. Retreat from 'Never' Land Begins: Tonga and Fiji, 197012. 'Independence and Self-Government have the Same Value': Self-Determination for Niue, 1970-7413. 'It is More Blessed to Go than be Pushed': The 1973 Programme Analysis and Review14. 'To Encourage Australia and New Zealand to Take a Larger Share': The Anzac Role in Decolonization15. 'Liquidating Colonial Arrangements with as much Speed as could be Decently Mustered'. Accelerated Decolonization: Solomon Islands16. 'We Cannot Now Apply the Brakes'. Accelerated Decolonization: Gilbert and Ellice Islands, 1975-7817. 'The Most Difficult Pre-Independence Conference We have had for a Pacific Territory'. Accelerated Decolonization: Kiribati and Banaba, 1968-7918. 'The Dying Art of Decolonization is Difficult to Pursue in a Condominium'. Accelerated Decolonization: New HebridesEpilogueBibliography

Editorial Reviews

"The account persuasively presented is that while British governments of all colours may have resented external demands for decolonisation, they were not at all seeking to hang on to 'assets' as long as possible, for few could be discerned. For policymakers in London (and indeed in Australiaand New Zealand, whose governments also had Pacific island responsibilities, which this book also addresses) the problem became how to decolonise in the region not whether to decolonise" --Stephen Constantine, The Round Table