British Citizenship and the Legacy of Empires

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Abstract

The Labour government has acknowledged the 'enormous bonds of commonality' (T. Blair, speech to Commonwealth Heads of Government, 24 October 1997. http://www.thecommonwealth.org), but the former empire or the modern Commonwealth has remained largely absent in the re-articulation of Britishness. Although there has been little attempt to reform the institutions and symbols of Empire, transnational ties with its former empire remain predominantly defined by ambiguity and selective myopia. This article will explore the relationship between former empire, British state and its composite nations by examining continued transnational constitutional and governmental ties and its implications on post-imperial frameworks of citizenship. The article will also consider the absence of empire or Commonwealth on the current debates concerning the 'Politics of Britishness' and how devolution has redefined post-imperialism across the UK. Finally, the article will assess in what ways the enduring legacy of empire may continue to influence the seemingly perpetual search for a homogenous sense of 'Britishness'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-355
Number of pages17
JournalParliamentary Affairs
Volume63
Issue number2
Early online date23 Sep 2009
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2010

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