The making of a global diaspora
in The English diaspora in North America
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Transnational connections and communication were critical for English ethnic associations. But this was by no means restricted to the United States and Canada as English associational connections linked all geographies of the English-speaking world. Consequently, chapter 7 extends the geographical focus, placing our North American research in the broader context by examining the spread of English societies around the world, and adopts a transnational framework to explore levels of communication between territories. In particular we investigate the spread of St George’s societies to locations beyond their first formation, examining developments in Africa and Australasia, While Australasian St George’s societies developed at about the same time as those in the Mid-West of America, and thus reflected the internal colonisation of both British and American worlds, they were not in any sense joined up at that point. Enduring connection did not in fact occur till the Royal Society of St George appeared in 1894 to bond Anglo-world’s various English societies. Celebrations of monarchy and Empire were critical in this globalization, providing a communal adhesive for English migrants wherever they were located. A similar anchor—albeit for a very different reason—was war. Not only did it heighten a sense of belonging among many, invigorating shared roots as the common denominator, it was, critically, a belonging often framed by Britishness rather than Englishness, and one paramount among those keen to stress the shared cultural characteristic of the English, British, Americans and neo-Britons in Empire. Still, Englishness was employed within that wider identity to help the ‘motherland’. English associations around the world collected funds in support of the war effort, or to help the widows and orphans of soldiers who had made the ultimate sacrifice, during both world wars, and, more directly and actively, the Toronto St George’s Society provided homes for children who had been sent over from England during the Second World War. All of these actions and communications criss-crossing the world—connecting diaspora English not only with the old homeland, but also each other—point not just to what Anderson called an ‘imagined community’, but also to an ‘imagined community’ made real through consistent practical connection.

The English diaspora in North America

Migration, ethnicity and association, 1730s–1950s

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