Written by specialists from various fields, this edited volume is the first systematic investigation of the impact of imperialism on twentieth-century Britain. The contributors explore different aspects of Britain's imperial experience as the empire weathered the storms of the two world wars, was subsequently dismantled, and then apparently was gone. How widely was the empire's presence felt in British culture and society? What was the place of imperial questions in British party politics? Was Britain's status as a global power enhanced or underpinned by the existence of its empire? What was the relation of Britain's empire to national identities within the United Kingdom? The chapters range widely from social attitudes to empire and the place of the colonies in the public imagination, to the implications of imperialism for demography, trade, party politics and political culture, government and foreign policy, the churches and civil society, and the armed forces. The volume also addresses the fascinating yet complex question of how, after the formal end of empire, the colonial past has continued to impinge upon our post-colonial present, as contributors reflect upon the diverse ways in which the legacies of empire are interpreted and debated in Britain today.
Andrew Thompson's previous publications include The Empire Strikes Back? The Impact of Imperialism on Britain from the Mid-Nineteenth Century (2005) and Empire and Globalisation. Networks of People, Goods and Capital in the British World, c.1850-1914 (2010). He is currently a Council member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and serves on the editorial boards of South African Historical Journal and Twentieth Century British History.