Kathleen Paul
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Communities of Britishness
Migration in the last gasp of empire
in British culture and the end of empire
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This chapter explores the different communities and suggests that their coming to the surface was a direct consequence of the end of empire. The confines of the distinct Irish community of Britishness first assumed concrete form in the negotiations surrounding Ireland's imminent declaration of a republic. British policy-makers sought to use the myth of a single, universal Britishness as one means of holding on to the international power and prestige associated with Britain's position at the centre of an empire. In June 1948, Clement Attlee's Labour Government passed a British Nationality Act which provided for an extremely generous definition of Britishness. Post-war Britain witnessed the migration of several major population groups. The 1971 Immigration Act reclassified all former British subjects as either patrial (subjects who themselves, or whose father or paternal grandfather had been born in the UK) or non-patrial (those without such family connections).

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