Mrinalini Sinha
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Whatever happened to the Third British empire?
Empire, Nation Redux
in Writing imperial histories
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This chapter charts the steps by which an erstwhile imperial conception of empire was decisively defeated in the interwar period in favour of a national conception of the empire. The reasons for this shift have been obscured in British imperial historiography for a variety of reasons. For one, the idea of a 'Third British Empire' never quite caught on in imperial historiography; and, even when it did, it has been confined largely to the history of the Dominion colonies and of the Commonwealth or, in more recent times, to British-diasporic studies now re-christened as the 'British World'. The interwar debates on the claims of British Indians as British subjects provide a window on the nature and consequences of the 'national turn' in imperial thinking. The idea of the British Commonwealth of Nations represented the triumph of an ambivalent national vision of empire.

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