How the British found utopia in Africa

Julia Gallagher

in Britain and Africa Under Blair

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780719085000
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702253 | DOI:
How the British found utopia in Africa

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This chapter discusses the ways in which Africa has offered opportunities for idealisation in the history of British engagement with the continent. First, it looks at the ways in which British involvement in West Africa has been described, as a backdrop to ideas about Britain's role of ‘doing good’ in Africa. It then considers two key movements and streams of thinking about Britain in Africa: the abolition movement in the early nineteenth century, and the late nineteenth-century colonial expansion into West Africa under Joseph Chamberlain. Finally, the chapter looks at how these two periods in history, and the ideas that guided them, fed via different streams into the Labour Party, causing internal tension over the issue of colonial possession, and ultimately becoming fused into one glorious idealisation of Africa and British history and policy there. It was this fused idealisation that informed the Party's approach to Africa under Tony Blair. The chapter also discusses the ideas of William Wilberforce, Joseph Chamberlain, Frederick Lugard, Leonard Woolf, and Fenner Brockway.

Keywords: Britain; Africa; idealisation; Tony Blair; Labour Party; abolition movement; colonial expansion; West Africa; Joseph Chamberlain; Fenner Brockway

Chapter.  12057 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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