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Title: Imagining an army : people, places and American identities, 1775-1783
Author: Chandler, J. P.
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis explores how Americans articulated, imagined and understood their relationship with the Continental Army as it operated around them during the American Revolutionary War. It examines both those who fought and those who did not, and considers what these people thought the army represented as it engaged in an increasingly bitter civil war. It reflects on how the creation of an unprecedented military force in North America challenged colonists’ conceptions of who they were. Americans understood the Continental Army as a military community that represented places: often their community, sometimes their colony, and increasingly their continent. Created to secure the North American continent, the army would come to embody its cause. Coverage of celebrations and commemorations ensured that the imagined army, the army of people’s perceptions, could correspond with these lofty ambitions. This army, representative of a physical continent, and those who inhabited it, could serve to highlight connections and similarities among its people, and their distinctions and differences from those who did not. This army offered a means for people to imagine themselves as a community, belonging to a continent, and connected by its interests and aspirations. However, the ‘continental’ aspect of the army was not the only possible perspective. The army was itself an imagined community. Professional connections sometimes spanned geographical distinctions, and on other occasions reinforced them. For many people, it was these connections that conferred the most significant conceptions of identity, whether they looked on the army as consisting of fellow-professionals, or of professional outsiders. As it became an increasingly distinct and organic military community, those outside of the army found their own way of resolving their imagined differences. Some embraced the image of an army that could meet their continental aspirations; others adopted the notion of the army as a threatening and distinct institution.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available