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6 - The Test of War

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 October 2023

Vivian Kong
Affiliation:
University of Bristol
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Summary

Japanese occupation of British Asia challenged British prestige at an unprecedented scale, but what the War challenged about Britishness went far beyond the myth of white supremacy. This chapter explains how the Second World War shattered the cosmopolitan, inclusive notions of Britishness that developed in pre-war Hong Kong. Even before the outbreak of war, systemic discrimination involved in the 1940 evacuation scheme made colonial subjects realize that Britishness was reduced to a ‘race’ at moments of crisis. The chapter also explored the varied wartime experience of Portuguese refugees in Macau, students and graduates of the University of Hong Kong, and members of the British Army Aid Group (B.A.A.G.). Increased interactions with the British state made some acutely aware of the racism they experienced under British colonialism, and eroded their identification with Britishness. The practicalities of war, then, highlighted the fragility of the rhetoric of imperial cosmopolitanism, and put the diverse forms of Britishness articulated in pre-war Hong Kong to a severe test.

Type
Chapter
Information
Multiracial Britishness
Global Networks in Hong Kong, 1910–45
, pp. 199 - 234
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • The Test of War
  • Vivian Kong, University of Bristol
  • Book: Multiracial Britishness
  • Online publication: 19 October 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009202930.007
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  • The Test of War
  • Vivian Kong, University of Bristol
  • Book: Multiracial Britishness
  • Online publication: 19 October 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009202930.007
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • The Test of War
  • Vivian Kong, University of Bristol
  • Book: Multiracial Britishness
  • Online publication: 19 October 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009202930.007
Available formats
×