Michael Worboys
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The Imperial Institute
The state and the development of the natural resources of the Colonial Empire, 1887–1923
in Imperialism and the natural world
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This chapter discusses the work of the Imperial Institute before 1923. It argues that it can be seen as an early attempt to establish the kind of applied research organisation usually said to have been pioneered in Britain during the First World War. The chapter considers how science emerged as an important feature of the development policies of the Colonial Office (CO). This grew out of the policy of 'constructive imperialism' and the support given by the permanent staff and political heads of the CO to scientific work. The evolution of the relationship between the Institute and the CO is discussed and this is followed by a review of the technical assistance work done by the Institute. The chapter also considers the problems faced by the Institute in the wake of the new wartime initiatives in research and the issue of centralised colonial research.

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