The People’s Empire and the People’s War


in Englishness and Empire 1939-1965

Published in print October 2007 | ISBN: 9780199226641
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191718069 | DOI:
The People’s Empire and the People’s War

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This chapter focuses on the role of propaganda in showing the war effort as a ‘people's war’. Much imagery of a ‘people's war’ focused on the home front. In contrast, the imperial war effort was usually shown on the fighting front, showing martial masculinity ‘away’. Its most characteristic image — as in the ‘Together’ poster — was of marching troops. Representations of nation and empire nevertheless converged on common themes. A racial community of Britons was one prominent theme of empire propaganda, highlighting the role of white Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders, and South Africans as ‘sons of empire’. This showed the efforts of the common people in empire, united with the common people of Britain in a fight for justice and freedom. But Indian soldiers were also acclaimed as courageous ‘sons of empire’ and much empire propaganda projected empire as a multiracial community. While a ‘people's war’ showed a homogeneous people pulling together across differences of class and gender, this version of a ‘people's empire’ showed a heterogeneous people pulling together across differences of race and ethnicity, united in a common cause.

Keywords: British culture; empire; imperial power; war; people's empire; propaganda

Chapter.  16973 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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