The amount of pessimistic material published in the 1960s about Britain’s place in the world suggests this was a real time of intense soul searching. What impact did this detachment from empire have upon Britain? As the different parts of the empire started to attain independence one of the most visible legacies of the empire in Britain was immigration – the rise in the number of people who previously lived in one or other of the colonies who now came to live in Britain. Scholar Sonya Rose has made the argument that it was really in the Second World War that, for the first time, a key contradiction to do with British attitudes towards race was brought out into the open. On the one hand the British always maintained that there was no colour bar in Britain unlike there was in South Africa…..British governments paraded this idea as proof of their liberal imperialist credentials. On the other hand Britain reamined a largely racist country that believed the British were superior to other so called races.
Dr Christopher Prior
In a podcast for the History Hub.ie podcast series, Dr Christopher Prior (University of Southampton) looks at British society after World War II. Dr Prior is the author of Exporting Empire: Africa, colonial officials and the construction of the British imperial state, c.1900-1939 (Manchester University Press).
Listen to Postcolonial Britain
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Image: Anthony Eden, British foreign minister, arrives at Gatow Airport in Berlin, Germany to attend the Potsdam Conference. Source: By United States Army Signal Corps [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons