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Citizens of empire
Wm. Matthew Kennedy

In revisiting each of the key arguments of the above chapters, this brief conclusion restates the case that Australians, in coming to believe that they were equals in empire, increasingly brought themselves into empire’s discourses, communities, and projects. It restates the case for broadening Australian historiography’s horizons to consider more than just the Anglo-Australian connection when accounting for Australia’s imperial history. The metaphorical meaning of imperial public pageantry at the festival of empire in 1911 is examined; this demonstrates well the public and the private reifications of Australia’s imperial political cosmology. Final remarks are reserved for suggesting where subsequent histories of Australia and empire might go from this foundation.

in The imperial Commonwealth
Wm. Matthew Kennedy

This chapter illustrates how Australian settlers and their leaders cooperated to create a new, morally legitimate category of martial experience – imperial military service – in contradistinction to the decades of frontier violence that continued to rage as a result of settler expansion. Australian officials, initially convinced of the viability of neutrality, reconfigured their military legislation and prepared their publics for service as the empire’s ‘police force’ throughout the late nineteenth century and early twentieth. In sum, the chapter charts a fuller history of Australia’s participation in armed violence ‘before the ANZAC dawn’, arguing that the many substantial connections that Australia’s colonial militaries maintained with the wider Indian empire – Sudan, but also the North-West Frontier and Burma – and thrice in Southern Africa served to separate ‘military service’ from ‘frontier violence’, creating conditions for Australian participation in ‘imperial’ wars alongside other colonies or Britain itself. Australians thus brought themselves into the military apparatus of empire. They did so first by transforming their militias into modern fighting forces that could cooperate with imperial forces, and then by seeking out opportunities to gain experience, usually on colonial battlefields in South Asia and Africa. Ultimately, the chapter shows that by the early twentieth century, many Australians joined the imperial martial effort because of a perceived sense that their rights to imperial equality also came with real obligations to ‘defend’ their empire in South Africa, the North-West Frontier, or the Pacific.

in The imperial Commonwealth
Australia and the project of empire, 1867–1914

Challenging conventional historiographies which claim that empire served only to hamper Australia’s national development and which examine only the Anglo-Australian connection, this book draws together for the first time several underutilized archives and emerging literatures to produce a new imperial history of Australia. It is one that places Australian settler colonialism in a broader imperial context while differentiating Australia’s categories for understanding the imperial world from those of London. This book demonstrates that many Australians came to view Britain’s empire not simply as a Greater British world state presided over by London, but as a global, ultramarine republic in which Australian settlers were co-equals. With this vision in mind, Australian settlers developed their own distinct categories for evaluating, criticizing, and claiming empire, ones based on settler logics that often placed race above gender, class, or nationality. Drawing on Australia’s many settler periodicals and official records, The imperial Commonwealth argues that this vision shaped colonial Australians’ understandings of the means and ends of their own settler colonialism came to define their relationship to Britain and motivated them to forge new transimperial connections with other settler and subject colonies in the Pacific, Africa, and South Asia through technology, humanitarianism, and military endeavour. By formulating, challenging, refining, and ultimately translating their own ideal of empire into colonial culture, politics, and law, Australian settler colonists transformed the Commonwealth into an empire in its own right.

Abstract only
Wm. Matthew Kennedy

Only in the last few years has the idea that Australia might well be thought of as an empire in its own right been floated. Previously, scholars tended to hedge their bets, using such terms as ‘proxy imperialism’ or ‘sub imperialism’, or perhaps simply ‘expansion’. In part, this tenuous approach derived from a previous generation’s scholarly focus on the historical problem of Australian national identity, which was then understood to be antithetical to empire. Yet, as new imperial histories and growing transnational and transcolonial historiographies show clearly, settler polities developed political cultures all their own, and with a variety of ideals animating contentious and unique debates in which ‘nationality’ and ‘empire’ could easily be complementary and even coterminous. Thus Australian settler cultures, ideals, and debates, while often treated as parts of a ‘British world’, deserve to be understood on their own terms. And, in their own words, many Australian settlers and later Commonwealth citizens ordered their political lives and visions of the future according to a unique settler idea of a transcolonial, cooperative project of empire – one that belonged to all white settlers equally, and one that demanded their allegiance as well.

in The imperial Commonwealth
Wm. Matthew Kennedy

This chapter examines the meaning of empire to late nineteenth-century settlers residing in the various Australian colonies in the decades leading up to the formation of the Australian Commonwealth. It examines Australian settlers’ own attitudes to various London-centred prognostications about the empire’s future, most famous among them Charles Dilke’s idea of a Greater Britain. While it may have earned him praise in the imperial capital, Dilke’s idea drew sustained criticism in Australia. Complementing this discussion, the chapter also examines Australian settlers’ ideas of what their future entailed. This analysis reveals an important reason why Australians’ hope for their political future differed from British ideas: the increasing urgency with which settlers felt that white polities must be defended against a growing coalition of uncivilized and non-white foes. Empire, to these settler minds, was a crucial vehicle for maintaining white hegemony over the world, something upon which the existence of their own settler democracies depended. And to many, Australia’s own federation (while it also served local political ends) seemed a precondition for the longevity of empire and the racialized world order it created.

in The imperial Commonwealth
Florence Mok

This chapter explores the relationship between a number of anti-corruption campaigns and the formation of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in 1974, the most important institutional change in British Hong Kong. Corruption had been a serious problem in the colony since the post-war period. The creation of the ICAC, however, was only made possible in 1973, when the press, student organisations and activists exploited the escape of Peter Godber from Hong Kong to Britain and mobilised public opinion. China Mail’s campaign to set up a hotline and conduct a survey successfully drew the attention of the public in Hong Kong and MPs in London, leading to further protest orchestrated by James Johnson and former civil servants. Signature campaigns and demonstrations led by the Hong Kong Federation of Students also received positive responses from the young generation. Campaigners, notably Elsie Elliott, James Johnson and Alan Ellis, worked closely with each other and made good use of their connections with politicians and the mass media to pursue their cause. Archival records suggest that these campaigns created an impetus for the colonial government to renegotiate institutional changes with the British government to eradicate corruption in Hong Kong. Nonetheless, public sentiment did not always influence policymaking. Despite public discontent over the escape of Godber, the Home Office refused to amend the Fugitive Offenders Act to extradite the corrupt police officer. The ICAC was largely successful in restoring public confidence in the colonial government. It played an important role in changing Hong Kong’s political culture.

in Covert colonialism
Florence Mok

In 1981, the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act was passed, stripping the rights of abode in Britain of 2.5 million Hong Kong Chinese. This provoked ‘a sense of betrayal’. This chapter examines how people of different social classes and age groups in Hong Kong responded to the enactment of the British Nationality Act. Despite a strong sentiment of bitterness felt by the Chinese population in Hong Kong towards the British government’s policy, Britain enacted this law to prevent a future influx of immigrants. A new nationality status, British National Overseas (BN(O)), was given to Hong Kong citizens. This legislative change has had a major impact on the late colonial and post-colonial Hong Kong. The Act shaped how residents identified with Britain and Hong Kong. Using both state records and published sources, this chapter analyses the public discourse and investigates how that influenced the policymaking process. In 2020, the imposition of the national security legislation in Hong Kong by China led activists to advocate changes to the Nationality Act. The Foreign Secretary in the United Kingdom recently announced that the country would scrap the six-month stay limit for BN(O) holders, extending it to twelve months, providing a pathway to future citizenship.

in Covert colonialism
Florence Mok

This chapter examines how utilities, ‘natural’ monopolies, were regulated in Hong Kong and how this affected consumer movements. In late 1974, it was rumoured that the monopolised Hong Kong Telephone Company would increase the telephone rate by 70 per cent. It soon sparked off colony-wide protests of an unprecedented scale. This chapter questions how social movements with an ant-colonial agenda affected consumption and government policies towards public goods. The increase in the telephone rate was regarded by the Governor as ‘potentially explosive’ as people of all social classes and age groups were affected. Organisations of different sectors and individuals of different social classes boycotted the Telephone Company, which reveals how the political culture was shifting, with civic organisations mobilising and actively lobbying the government. During the protest, shifting popular sentiment was observed by City District Officers, using mechanisms such as situation reports and Town Talk. The Home Affairs Department, the Division of Information Service and the Special Branch were involved in monitoring political activism and compiling special reports. By collecting intelligence on popular attitudes, the colonial government improved its decision-making capacity and sought to demonstrate that it was responding rationally to the protest. These social and political processes had a moderate effect: the increase was set at 30 per cent, lower than the 55 per cent that was first advised. This outcome was symbolically important: it showed that a reformist colonial administration was responsive to shifting public opinion, and thus had the potential to further encourage the development of civil society.

in Covert colonialism
Florence Mok

"The Golden Jubilee incident from 1977 to 1978 was ‘an eye-opener’ for the public, in particular those with a conservative mindset. To obtain attention from senior civil servants, the teachers and students exposed an example of ‘corruption’ to the public through the organisation of sits-in and hunger strikes. During the campaign, the activists displayed remarkable capacity for organisation. The networking capacity of activists gave them an effective way of communicating with post-secondary students, educational and religious organisations, and even MPs in London. Their campaigning pressurised the colonial government to set up a Committee of Inquiry, and to monitor public opinion closely. The campaign also showed how the political culture of the educated young generation was changing. These students engaged in different forms of political acts and gained support from their peers and politicians. Despite considerable support from the post-secondary students and educational sector, the campaign however failed to enlist support from the general public. Political conservatism was still prevalent, partly because of the 1967 riots, which cast a shadow on the society. Moreover, concepts such as ‘injustice’, ‘democracy’ and ‘anti-colonialism’ propagated by the activists were unappealing to people who were concerned primarily with their livelihoods. They lacked enthusiasm to engage in debates about how the state was governing a colonial society.

in Covert colonialism
Florence Mok

This chapter explores the changing immigration discourse and policy in Hong Kong in the 1970s. It explains how public opinion and other factors, such as international publicity and Sino-British relations, affected Hong Kong’s immigration policy. Throughout the 1970s, the scale of illegal immigration from China strained the colony’s limited housing stock and its under-developed welfare and education system. The shifting international and popular discourse regrading immigration influenced how the colonial government managed this ‘problem of people’ through implementing a new immigration policy. The colonial government departed from its ‘local integration’ approach adopted in the 1950s and introduced the ‘Touch Base’ policy in 1974, repatriating all illegal immigrants who failed to reach Hong Kong’s urban areas. Hong Kong Chinese of all social classes and age groups were engaged in an issue that affected their daily lives. This exclusionist immigration policy facilitated increased discrimination towards and stereotypes of mainland Chinese. The shifting popular sentiment, along with the constraints in land and resources, imposed tremendous pressure on the colonial government, driving it to affirm the necessity of new immigration controls to London in 1980. The problem was that the Foreign Office prioritised its relationship with China. Policy changes had long-term effects. They reinforced the emerging ‘Hong Kong political identity’, influencing the colony’s political culture in the 1980s and 1990s. They also laid the foundation for the emergence of a political definition of ‘Hong Kong permanent resident’ in the Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984 and the Basic Law in 1990.

in Covert colonialism