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Title: Cultures of empire in the Scottish Highlands, c.1876-1902
Author: Thomas, Ben
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis explores how the people of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland - a rural region of Britain - engaged with the British Empire in a period commonly referred to as the 'Age of High Imperialism'. It does so by exploring civil society activity in the area, and examines how different aspects of domestic life - religion, politics, culture, associational activity - shaped engagement with the Empire or imperial ideas. Scholarship on the place of the Empire back 'home' in Britain has recently stressed the patchwork nature of imperial engagement, with recognition given to the fact that both British society and the Empire itself were never monolithic entities. A 'Four Nations' approach to empire has been one of the most fruitful outcomes of this new focus, and this body of scholarship has explored how each of the four nations of Britain had different relationships with the Empire, and the impact this had on individual national identities. However, both this body of literature and the wider literature on 'imperial Britain' have remained overwhelmingly urban in focus, and have failed to explore whether the models for empire engagement they portray varied outside of Britain's main urban centres. By exploring the place of the Empire in a predominantly rural region, this study therefore breaks new ground, and in 'thinking regionally' about the place of the Empire in British society it provides a clear challenge to much of the conventional literature on the Empire's impact at home in Britain. In particular, by looking at the issue through a regional prism this thesis challenges both the 'Four Nations' and 'British World' models put forward by historians, by showing clearly that local contexts and local factors often mitigated the applicability of these wider ideas. In the former case, Highland contemporaries rarely celebrated the Scottish dimensions of empire, and instead placed to the fore both their local and regional contributions. In the latter case, many individuals rejected the very notion that a Greater Britain existed across the seas, and both class and language emerge clearly as factors separating the region's lower classes from full engagement with this wider idea. Throughout this study it will be shown that local factors were vital to shaping popular engagement with empire, and that often these factors precluded the spread of cultures of empire, or shaped perceptions of empire in highly negative ways.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: MacLeod Scholarship ; University of Aberdeen
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Highlands (Scotland) ; Great Britain