“There'll Always Be an England”: Representations of Colonial Wars and Immigration, 1948–1968
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 January 2014
“In Malaya,” the Daily Mail noted in 1953, “three and a half years of danger have given the planters time to convert their previously pleasant homes into miniature fortresses, with sandbag parapets, wire entanglements, and searchlights.” The image of the home as fortress and a juxtaposition of the domestic with menace and terror were central to British media representations of colonial wars in Malaya and Kenya in the 1950s. The repertoire of imagery deployed in the Daily Mail for the “miniature fortress” in Malaya was extended to Kenya, where the newspaper noted wire over domestic windows, guns beside wine glasses, the charming hostess in her black silk dress with “an automatic pistol hanging at her hip.” Such images of English domesticity threatened by an alien other were also central to immigration discourse in the 1950s and 1960s. In the context of the decline of British colonial rule after 1945, representations of the empire and its legacy—resistance to colonial rule in empire and “immigrants” in the metropolis—increasingly converged on a common theme: the violation of domestic sanctuaries.
Colonial wars of the late 1940s and 1950s have received little attention in literatures on national identity in early postwar Britain, but the articulation of racial difference through immigration discourse, and its significance in redefining the postimperial British national community has been widely recognized. As Chris Waters has suggested in his work on discourses of race and nation between 1947 and 1963, these years saw questions of race become central to questions of national belonging.
- Research Article
- Journal of British Studies , Volume 40 , Issue 4: At Home in the Empire , October 2001 , pp. 557 - 584
- Copyright © North American Conference of British Studies 2001
1 Daily Mail (26 January 1953).
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33 Daily Mail (16 August 1948).
34 Daily Mail (5 January 1953).
35 Daily Express (7 January 1953).
36 Daily Express (24 November 1952).
37 Daily Express (7 January 1953).
39 Daily Express (3 January 1953); Daily Express (26 January 1952).
41 See Webster, Imagining Home, chap. 4.
42 The Times (19 September 1952).
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49 This image had particular currency in Hollywood “British” empire films, such as Gunga Din (Stevens, George, 1939)Google Scholar, which focused on the northwest frontier and the soldier hero. It was also a common image in British imperial films such as The Drum.
50 Daily Express (5 January 1953).
51 See, e.g., Daily Express (5 January 1953); Daily Mail (5 January 1953); Illustrated London News (17 January 1953).
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54 Daily Mail (5 January 1953). Some newspapers reported that Raynes-Simson was South African, but this did not disrupt the connections made between images of a peaceful home and garden and Englishness.
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61 Flame in the Streets (Baker, Roy, 1961)Google Scholar. This film is discussed in Young, Fear of the Dark, chap. 4; Webster, Imagining Home, chap. 3.
62 The Times (19 September 1952).
63 For a discussion of this imagery see Stoler, Ann, Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault's History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things (Durham, N.C., 1995), chap. 4Google Scholar.
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69 See Schwarz, “‘The Only White Man In There.’”
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71 Quoted in Heffer, Simon, Like the Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (London, 1998), p. 115Google Scholar.
74 Ibid., p. 255.