Colonial Wars


in Englishness and Empire 1939-1965

Published in print October 2007 | ISBN: 9780199226641
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191718069 | DOI:
Colonial Wars

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This chapter focuses on narratives of colonial wars in the 1950s. The siege narrative of colonial wars in the 1950s took a different trajectory from Second World War narratives, which increasingly expelled the home front, civilians, and women. The incorporation of white women in colonial war films conformed to developments in the 1950s empire genre more generally, and produced a more intimate sense of British identity in empire than pre-1945 films that showed homosocial communities of soldiers or administrators. In empire, white women could symbolize national weakness and vulnerability, or intrepidity and courage. But they also gave narratives of colonial wars a more liberal register, suggesting British commitment to welfare, development, and peace-keeping — a moral endeavour undertaken in very difficult circumstances. Despite these gestures towards a ‘people's war’, colonial war narratives produced a very different image from the wartime ‘people's empire’. Diverse peoples were no longer united against a common enemy. Instead a racial community of Britons was under siege in empire.

Keywords: narratives; British culture; colonial war; immigration; colonial war films; welfare

Chapter.  13956 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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