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Title: Imperialism and identity in British colonial naval culture, 1930s to decolonisation
Author: Spence, Daniel Owen
ISNI:       0000 0004 2743 8045
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2012
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During the Second World War, around 8,000 men from fifteen colonial territories fought for the British Empire in locally-raised naval volunteer forces. Their relatively small size has meant that up to now they have remained merely a footnote within the wider historiography of the war. Yet, if examined beyond their ambiguous wartime contribution and placed within the broader context of imperial history, they provide an important new lens for analysing the dynamics of imperialism during the twilight of the British Empire. Through a comparative analysis of three case studies: the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and East Asia - and by reconciling the 'official' record in the 'metropole' with 'subaltern' sources located in those regions, this thesis examines for the first time the political, social and cultural impact of these forces. It explores how they emerged out of a climate of 'imperial overstretch' as bulwarks for the preservation of British 'prestige'; how imperial ideology and racial discourses of power influenced naval recruitment, strategy and management, affecting colonial conceptions of identity, indigenous belief systems and ethnic relations; and how naval service, during both war and peacetime, influenced motivations, imperial sentiment, group cohesion and force discipline. This thesis will also assess the evolution of these part-time colonial volunteer forces into professional sovereign navies within the context of decolonisation. It will investigate the extent to which British hegemonic influence was maintained within post-colonial relationships. Issues of nationalisation, its utilisation as a tool for 'nation-building', and the impact of nationalist ideology and social engineering upon service efficiency and esprit de corps will also be examined. In the process this thesis furthers developments within the 'new naval history', by reconceptualising our understanding of navies as not merely organisations for the physical projection and maintenance of political and economic influence, but as human and cultural institutions, in which power was expressed as much in the ideas and relations they cultivated, as the barrels of their guns.
Supervisor: Collins, Bruce ; Midgley, Clare Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available