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date: 10 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers processes of decolonization in Britain’s ‘empires’, incorporating discussion not just of the key dynamics and manifestations of decolonization in the colonial empire in India, Africa, the Caribbean and elsewhere, but also in Britain’s residual ‘informal’ empire in the Middle East, and in the ‘old’ Commonwealth countries of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. The chapter argues that decolonization across these different contexts was driven by geo-political forces operating across the European empires, as the international order was reconfigured by two world wars, tilting power away from Britain and other European imperial powers. Stockwell nevertheless identifies elements of British imperial exceptionalism. She suggests that these were not to be found, as contemporaries liked to claim, in the form of a British liberal imperialism. Rather, Britain, which was at the centre of an empire larger than any other, retained a semblance of great power status, shaping British relations with the United States and Britain’s ambitions to exercise influence after empire.

Keywords: Britain, decolonization, British Empire, imperialism, economics, insurgency, emergency, transfer of power

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