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 .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Starting with popular memories of the civilian gas masks of the Second World War, this chapter argues that the emergence of this singular, material object signals the arrival of the civil defense state and its accompanying militarization of civilian life. It reveals the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of The Age of the Gas Mask, and shows how the gas mask connects the histories of both world wars, of combatants and civilians, of men and women, of metropole and colony, of the state and the individual, thus shedding new light on total war.
While civilians in the metropole had mixed responses to concerted efforts to urge them to carry their gas masks, popular culture continued to make the gas mask an object of humor as well as something to manage panic or fear. As the war continued, new questions emerged that showed the limits of the gas mask’s reach, notably who was responsible for providing gas masks for internees in camps on the Isle of Man or for colonial subjects in places ranging from Aden to India to Singapore to the West Indies. Those planning for civil defense had not considered provisions for those in Britain’s extensive empire, and those in the colonies came to treat imperial civil defense with ambivalence. As Britain’s access to its overseas empire – and most importantly its source of rubber – shifted by the middle of 1942, so too did its instructions about gas masks. It now no longer asked its inhabitants to carry their gas masks everywhere but instead to ensure that they knew where they were and would keep them in good order. Despite poison gas not being deployed in massive attacks on civilians, as feared in the planning stages, the government continued to provide babies’ anti-gas protective helmets to all infants, and to inspect and repair gas masks for other ages throughout the war. At the war’s end, however, it decided not to collect these devices, just in case they could be of use in a future war.
Responding to imagined threats about chemical weapons delivered aerially, the British government intensified its efforts to create gas masks for everyone, testing fit and designs for those who might be unable to wear standard equipment. It did so in an atmosphere where popular culture continued to offer dire imaginings about poison gas’s potential for widespread destruction and where questions about anti-gas protection in the empire continued to emerge. By the start of 1938, the government’s air raid precautions department had developed extensive plans for how to distribute gas masks in case of an emergency across the United Kingdom. However, as it began to unveil such plans further, it encountered resistance from pacifists and antimilitarists as well as some grudging acceptance. The first significant test of these schemes came amid the Czechoslovakian or Munich Crisis in September 1938. On what became known as “Gas Mask Sunday,” the government asked its civilian inhabitants to line up across the nation to be fitted for gas masks. Although the outbreak of war was avoided, the limitations of anti-gas protection and the lack of suitable gas masks for all would propel this aspect of civil defense to the forefront as Britain’s entry into war seemed more likely than ever.
Chapter 2 shows how the arrival of lethal chemical warfare at the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915 led to the invention of anti-gas protection. It traces the crucial role played by women in this initial process and how the prospect of gas masks for civilians slowly emerged during the First World War and then continued in the war’s aftermath. The prospect of a future war of aero-chemical annihilation motivated feminist antimilitarists and others demanding the curtailment of chemical arms. Nonetheless Britain continued in both the metropole and empire to develop both such weapons and equipment to protect individuals from poison gas. Chemical weapons also had defenders, and the debate over their legitimacy played out in public even as government officials, who were inventing civil defense in secret in the 1920s, incorporated individual anti-gas protection into their calculations.
This chapter explores the discourses used to construct disability as different in nineteenth-century Britain and its empire. First, I argue that in this period a constellation of figures came to be seen as a class of people distinct from the remainder of the British population. The census and philanthropic literature functioned to crystallise disability as something tangible and other. Conceptualising disabled people in this way required considerable discursive, architectural, administrative, philanthropic and pedagogical work and this work occurred both in the empire overseas and at home in imperial Britain. Secondly, I argue that the status of Britain, throughout the nineteenth century, as the heart of a global empire, was crucial to how ideas about disability came to be formed. My third argument is that whilst empire shaped the way in which disability was constructed, the reverse was also true: thinking about disability moulded the way in which the colonial ‘other’ was imagined. People of colour who may otherwise be considered non-disabled were repeatedly described using language that evoked disablement. My overarching argument is, therefore, that discourses of race and disability, whilst not one and the same, were not simply related discourses but were mutually constituted.
Colonising Disability explores the construction and treatment of disability across Britain and its empire from the nineteenth to the early twentieth century. Drawing on a wide range of sources, Esme Cleall explores how disability increasingly became associated with 'difference' and argues that it did so through intersecting with other categories of otherness such as race. Philanthropic, legal, literary, religious, medical, educational, eugenistic and parliamentary texts are examined to unpick representations of disability that, overtime, became pervasive with significant ramifications for disabled people. Cleall also uses multiple examples to show how disabled people navigated a wide range of experiences from 'freak shows' in Britain, to missions in India, to immigration systems in Australia, including exploring how they mobilised to resist discrimination and constitute their own identities. By assessing the intersection between disability and race, Dr Cleall opens up questions about 'normalcy' and the making of the imperial self.
The First World War introduced the widespread use of lethal chemical weapons. In its aftermath, the British government, like that of many states, had to prepare civilians to confront such weapons in a future war. Over the course of the interwar period, it developed individual anti-gas protection as a cornerstone of civil defence. Susan R. Grayzel traces the fascinating history of one object – the civilian gas mask – through the years 1915–1945 and, in so doing, reveals the reach of modern, total war and the limits of the state trying to safeguard civilian life in an extensive empire. Drawing on records from Britain's Colonial, Foreign, War and Home Offices and other archives alongside newspapers, journals, personal accounts and cultural sources, she connects the histories of the First and Second World Wars, combatants and civilians, men and women, metropole and colony, illuminating how new technologies of warfare shaped culture, politics, and society.
This final chapter explores the patchwork state in comparative perspective. It places the uneven state-building trajectories of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh in the context of broader South Asia. It then contrasts South Asian patchwork states with dynamics in East and Southeast Asian cases, which had internal differentiation in colonial governance, but also Japanese conquest and postwar revolutionary and counterrevolutionary mobilization. The chapter concludes with the application of fear, greed and frugality in the creation of the British and American Empires, and their consequences in state strength and weakness.
Chapter 11 reappraises the peace conceptions and reordering strategies of Lloyd George and the other architects of the British agenda for the Paris Peace Conference. It argues that what they envisaged centred, not on containing Germany and re-establishing a workable balance of power but rather on the novel aim to create, in cooperation with the United States, a new Atlantic concert that was to stabilise a modern international equilibrium within a recast global order. It illuminates the underlying assumptions and rationales of what became an ambitious British peace programme, which included the most elaborate and influential blueprints for a League of Nations as framework for a novel, and integrative, international concert. And it highlights that British approaches to peacemaking, which were also designed to bolster the British Empire and expand British imperial influence in the Middle East, evolved and changed significantly between the armistice and Versailles as well. Finally, it analyses the extent to which Lloyd George and other key actors like Robert Cecil and Jan Christiaan Smuts had embarked on constructive learning processes – and the extent to which their evolving concepts and strategies were conducive to the creation of a durable and legitimate Atlantic and global order.
In the mid-nineteenth century, touring minstrel and Italian operatic troupes reached Bombay’s shores, exposing its residents to the delights of European and American popular tunes and burlesque Italian opera. Although reformists initially struggled to convince locals to patronise this strange warbling, opera gradually became a marker of high culture in the subcontinent. This transition was the result of the adoption of the term ‘opera’ by Parsi theatre, India’s most widespread, commercial, ‘modern’ dramatic form. The chapter traces Parsi theatre's role in the creation of a modern South Asian aural culture during the second half of the nineteenth century through the indigenisation of Italian opera. It delineates how the locus for Hindustani music shifted, from the courts of Awadh to the proscenium theatres of Asia, and how an Indian brand of opera that combined European melodies with Hindustani music became a staple not only of the theatre but also of the cinematic medium that followed.
The Tudors’ Welsh ancestry and doubtful claim to the English throne rendered them conscious successors of King Arthur, and the mythology surrounding Arthur and Merlin became central to the construction of Tudor power from 1485 onwards. Accusations and rumours of magic were rife at the court of Henry VIII and played a key role in the downfall of Anne Boleyn as queen, but allegations of magic also swirled around Cardinal Wolsey in Henry’s early reign. However, it was not until the reign of Elizabeth that a Tudor monarch embraced her ‘Arthurian’ identity to the extent of seeking the advice of a latter-day Merlin, a role eagerly fulfilled by John Dee. At the high point of Dee’s influence a magically inspired idea of a British empire briefly influenced official policy under a queen so fascinated by the occult arts that she personally practised alchemy. At the same time, the Italian religious exile (and possible spy) Giordano Bruno saw himself as an ‘occult missionary’, bringing his particular brand of Hermetic magic to England.
This chapter explores the high hopes for Irish commerce that were aroused by the American Revolution, and their complex interactions with British attempts to reform and consolidate the remnants of its mercantile empire following its American debacle. Irish campaigns for ‘free trade’ and ‘legislative independence’ were animated by the hope that the liberation of the Kingdom’s foreign trade would enable it to chart its own course in a more peaceful Europe. This vision clashed fundamentally with a rival, British reform agenda, embodied in William Pitt the Younger’s unsuccessful Irish Commercial Propositions of 1785, which balanced an extension of imperial trading privileges to Ireland with its closer integration into the British market. The rejection of Pitt’s proposals by the Irish parliament, after their heavy modification by British slaving and manufacturing interests, produced an unstable equilibrium, dominated by patronage and executive power, that was ripe for criticism by the more radical forces that would take up the fallen mantle of Irish ‘patriotism’ in the 1790s.
Histories of Irish political thought in this period have adopted an overwhelmingly national focus. While they have frequently engaged with the transnational contexts, whether British, Atlantic or European, that have shaped traditions such as unionism, nationalism and republicanism, their ultimate purpose has been to better understand the principal actors in what remains an Irish story. 4 This focus on Irish national and confessional identities has tended to sideline other questions that we might usefully ask of texts produced in and around Ireland during this turbulent period. Where was Ireland located, by Irish and non-Irish contemporaries alike, within the broader political conjuncture of the later-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries? What can debates concerning Ireland can tell us about the evolution of British and European political thinking in the era of the American and French Revolutions, and of Britain’s rise to global commercial and colonial hegemony?
A complex, triangular relationship existed between Ireland, Britain and France that structured eighteenth- and nineteenth-century debates over the vicissitudes of empire in Ireland. The significance of this relationship, I have suggested, was not reducible to the military threat France occasionally posed to British rule. It lay instead in the influence of Franco-British rivalry and emulation exerted over the political economy of empire, and in the manner this was interpreted by contemporaries in Ireland, Britain and Europe. The threat, and the example, of France inspired British and Irish efforts to reform and consolidate empire, alongside Irish attempts to escape from it. In Ireland, political thinkers across Europe saw not just a land of religious dissension and emergent ‘nationality’, but a vital case study in the workings of mercantile power politics, and in the consequences of the persistence of aristocratic inequality in an era of commercial growth and agrarian transformation. The government of Ireland was not, therefore, a narrowly Irish problem. It lay at a vital intersection between contemporary understandings of commerce, empire and international order.
Historiography on the extreme violence of fin de siècle colonial wars has often remained nationally fragmented or actively invested in theories of national exceptionality. Focusing on the British, German and Dutch empires, this article seeks to understand the extreme violence as a transimperial phenomenon and asks how we can conceptualise and give empirical substance to this transimperial dimension. First, I give some indication of the degree of transimperial connectivity in the field of colonial warfare, highlighting how intensive mutual imperial observation and the individual mobility of actors fed knowledge into what Kamissek and Kreienbaum have called an “imperial cloud.” Secondly, I argue that a transimperial body of thought behind the extreme violence can be discerned on the level of colonial warfare's racialisation and the resulting specific communicative and performative aspects. Drawing on fin de siècle manuals of colonial warfare and a selection of case studies, I take the transimperial notion of “moral effect” to demonstrate how such basic notions both generated and legitimised extreme violence in colonial warfare.
The late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries have long been seen as a foundational period for modern Irish political traditions such as nationalism, republicanism and unionism. The Case of Ireland offers a fresh account of Ireland's neglected role in European debates about commerce and empire in what was a global era of war and revolution. Drawing on a broad range of writings from merchants, agrarian improvers, philosophers, politicians and revolutionaries across Europe, this book shows how Ireland became a field of conflict and projection between rival visions of politics in commercial society, associated with the warring empires of Britain and France. It offers a new perspective on the crisis and transformation of the British Empire at the end of the eighteenth century, and restores Ireland to its rightful place at the centre of European intellectual history.
This Introduction describes the major currents of change which swept through British writing in the years between 1900 and 1920. It introduces the idea of ‘transition’ as a key concept for the literary culture of the period, and demonstrates its relevance across several domains of life: aesthetic, technological, historical, social, psychological. The Introduction argues that, while major historic movements and events – notably, the rise of modernism and the catastrophe of the First World War – have long been central to our understanding of its literature, we can nonetheless gain a new perspective on the period’s cultural life by viewing it through a wider historical aperture. By charting transitions across the century’s first two decades, the Introduction emphasises the sense of uncertainty and change that characterises much of the period’s most influential and important writing.
During the first two decades of the twentieth century, Britain's imperial power and influence was at its height. These were years of daring, when adventurers sounded the mysteries of the deep sea and the distant poles, aviators sped through the skies, and new media technologies transformed communication. They were years of social upheaval, during which long-suppressed voices – particularly those of women, of the labouring classes, and of colonial subjects – grew louder and demanded to be heard. They were years of violence, of insurrection and political agitation, and of imperial conflicts that would encompass continents. By subjecting specific developments in literature and related culture to a fine-grained and historically-informed analysis, British Literature in Transition, 1900–1920: A New Age? explores the writing of this extraordinary period in all its complexity and vibrancy.
There is still much unclear about the nature of the origins of Australia’s most respected and hallowed national day, namely Anzac Day, 25 April, and about who was primarily responsible for instituting a day of solemn commemoration for the fallen in the Great War of 1914–18. Much has been written by mostly unqualified would-be ‘authorities’ that is either patently false, uninformed or hostile to the commemoration. This is either because of resentment in some quarters of the distinctly Anglican contribution to the nature of the commemoration or pacifist misunderstanding that the celebration of Anzac Day is somehow a glorification of war. This paper based on original research into the files of the Queensland Anzac Day Commemoration Committee establishes the key role of Canon David John Garland (1864–1939) in shaping a liturgy of civic religion for the day which he hoped would become a means of reminding the population of their calling as part of the British Empire to emphasize the reign of Almighty God over all nations of the earth. That was the hidden Christian agenda in the mind of Canon Garland. Naturally he had his opponents to this objective.
Late in the morning of Sunday 2 August 1914, following the receipt of various warnings from London that war was imminent, the Australian Prime Minister, Joseph Cook, met senior army officers in Melbourne to discuss ‘arrangements for putting the precautionary stage into operation’. The officers explained the plans, and immediately orders were issued for the first stage of mobilisation. The orders went out to the permanent gunners of the Royal Australian Garrison Artillery, as well as the permanent engineers, to man the defended ports at Thursday Island, Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, Albany and Fremantle.