in Colonial naval culture and British imperialism, 1922–67
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Colonial naval forces were seen as an important step in fostering regional cooperation. The metropole-colonial dynamic was inverted, with the Navy dependent upon the local legislatures holding the purse strings and power to support or veto its schemes. Welfare provisions were intended to morally and materially improve the lives of colonial sailors and their families. 'Progress' under naval instruction reinforced the notion of a 'civilising mission', where colonial peoples still required Britain's paternal guidance before they were considered 'developed' enough to govern themselves, politically and militarily. Seafaring race theory served to divide and rule, legitimising the exclusion of groups seen as threatening to British authority within this racial ordering, such as Chinese and Eurasians in Southeast Asia, whilst buttressing colonial collaborators. Ultimately, for the British authorities the perceived imperial loyalty of colonial naval recruits was considered more important than any seafaring ability they might possess, inherent or otherwise.


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