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Sabine Clarke

Scholars have repeatedly said that the Colonial Office actively frustrated any hopes for Caribbean industrialisation. In fact, officials saw the development of secondary manufacturing as essential after the Second World War, in order to raise living standards and contain political dissent. Officials in London were occupied in the 1940s with the question of what constituted acceptable modes of intervention by government to facilitate diversification, consulting a number of experts, including W. A. Lewis. The challenge was to reconcile the need to demonstrate a more constructive approach with some long-standing laissez-faire principles. Two wider issues made Colonial Office attempts to persuade the colonies to follow its preferred route to industrialisation difficult, however. The increasing political autonomy of governments in the Caribbean meant that Britain could not merely instruct its possessions to follow its edicts. In addition, it became clear that the US sought to expand its influence in the Caribbean, and the promotion of models of industrialisation derived from the experience of Puerto Rico became part of American strategy. In the face of these challenges, the dissemination of economic advice by the Colonial Office assumed unprecedented importance.

in Science at the end of empire
Open Access (free)
Sabine Clarke

Widespread riots occurred across the British Caribbean during the 1930s. The cause was very poor economic conditions during the Depression that resulted, in part, from the collapse of the price of cane sugar. In response, the Colonial Office formulated a solution to Caribbean problems in which sugar would be transformed from a foodstuff in oversupply to a raw material for manufacturing synthetics and fuels. Inspired by the interest shown by major chemical firms such as ICI into the use of sugar and molasses as starting compounds for making polythene and other new materials, the CO initiated a programme of scientific research into the chemistry of sugar. The goal was to find a permanent solution to the persistent problems that affected the Caribbean. In making a commitment to this scheme, officials took a different path from that embodied in the proposals of the recent Moyne Commission that historians have often said provided the blueprint for policies for the Caribbean after 1945.

in Science at the end of empire
Experts and the development of the British Caribbean, 1940–62
Author: Sabine Clarke

This book produces a major rethinking of the history of development after 1940 through an exploration of Britain’s ambitions for industrialisation in its Caribbean colonies. Industrial development is a neglected topic in histories of the British Colonial Empire, and we know very little of plans for Britain’s Caribbean colonies in general in the late colonial period, despite the role played by riots in the region in prompting an increase in development spending. This account shows the importance of knowledge and expertise in the promotion of a model of Caribbean development that is best described as liberal rather than state-centred and authoritarian. It explores how the post-war period saw an attempt by the Colonial Office to revive Caribbean economies by transforming cane sugar from a low-value foodstuff into a lucrative starting compound for making fuels, plastics and medical products. In addition, it shows that as Caribbean territories moved towards independence and America sought to shape the future of the region, scientific and economic advice became a key strategy for the maintenance of British control of the West Indian colonies. Britain needed to counter attempts by American-backed experts to promote a very different approach to industrial development after 1945 informed by the priorities of US foreign policy.

Sabine Clarke

Sugar research was only one of a large number of new projects created with the passing of the 1940 Colonial Development and Welfare Act. The Act included a Research Fund that made the Colonial Office the second largest sponsor of civil scientific research in Britain. Scientists and officials spoke of the need to use the Research Fund to support more ‘fundamental research’. The key value that informed the new arrangements intended to expand fundamental research was ‘freedom’. Scientists at the Colonial Office claimed that for the highest quality research to occur, scientists had to be free to choose their own research problems. When it came to sponsoring sugar research as the basis for new industry, freedom was also key. The Colonial Office formed a Colonial Products Research Council to fund research into the basic reactions of sugar, avoiding narrowly defined problems that directly related to the work of any individual firm. Researchers would pursue research of the broadest possible nature, leaving individual companies to apply the results according to their interests. In this way, state-sponsored research would not contravene the principles of liberal political economy.

in Science at the end of empire
South African Indian responses
Hilary Sapire

This chapter considers the apparent resurgence of imperial royalism at a moment when a rhetoric of democratic rights and tone of defiance suffused South African Indian political discourse. It explores the deepening of political divisions within the leadership in early 1947. The chapter draws attention to the 'moderates', a grouping marginalised in a dominant historical narrative of Indian politics that prioritises the emergence of progressive cross-racial and transnational alliances that would mobilise against apartheid in succeeding decades. It focuses on positions taken by the moderate leadership during bitter disputes over the visit and sheds light on an alternative, if discredited, trajectory taken in South African Indian politics. Most striking was the 'complete split in the Indian community' that arose from the 'ill-advised' attempts of Congress to boycott the royal visit, giving the moderates an opportunity to challenge the radical leadership.

in Royals on tour
Open Access (free)
The predicament of history
Bill Schwarz

The term ‘West Indian’ always represented a complex of competing ideas, a resource for both colonial and anticolonial politics. West Indians were colonial Britons who experienced the civilisation of the British, in Britain, from a very particular vantage. Three overlapping and interconnected areas of thought are addressed: race and ethnicity; the project of decolonisation; and the historical imagination itself. The issue of the popular brought the cultural activists of Caribbean Artists Movement (CAM) hard up against the question of British civilisation. It suggests that the work of decolonisation in its expansive register requires popular self-activity, not only on the part of the colonised but on the part too of the native citizens of the metropolis. Maybe in the future the most profound impact of Caribbean thought will be on the capacity to imagine the past, and to strive to bring it into consciousness.

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
John Marriott

This chapter focuses on metropolitan poor and colonial peoples, which are often considered as one of the most threatening antitheses to progress. The writings of travellers and evangelicals were by far the most influential and provided the clearest evidence of a concern—realized in practical action—that embraced the plight of slaves and the poor. In terms of their chronologies, rhetoric, narratives and agencies, there were distinct homologies between the discursive appropriations of the antithesis of progress during the long nineteenth century. Agents operating across narrowly defined boundaries using an intellectual and linguistic repertoire forged from the transformation in human consciousness conceptualized imperial progress on the fronts of slavery, poverty and colonialism. Furthermore, the chapter explores the rise of the idea of progress and how it structured British thought on the place of non-European peoples in the new world order.

in The other empire
Open Access (free)
One or two ‘honorable cannibals’ in the House?
Julie Evans, Patricia Grimshaw, David Philips and Shurlee Swain

This chapter focuses on the expansion of the British Empire and early political developments in the British settler colonies in the region of Australasia from the late 1830s to around 1870. The first colonies on the Australian continent and the islands of New Zealand in the decades from the late 1830s to 1870 were notable for their swift movement politically from initial Crown colonies to virtual local self-government. The British Government first made arrangements for representative government based on a property franchise for all of these colonies, and then conceded responsible government to the settler colonists. Further, by 1860, the legislatures of the eastern and southeastern Australian colonies had instituted full manhood suffrage. The Indigenous peoples of the Australasian colonies, Aborigines and Maori, were included in this process to self-government and democracy. The means by which colonists could acquire land and their subsequent usage of it would strongly influence Maori and Aborigines' entitlement to political citizenship and the likelihood of their exercising it.

in Equal subjects, unequal rights
Open Access (free)
‘Australia for the White Man’
Julie Evans, Patricia Grimshaw, David Philips and Shurlee Swain

This chapter focuses on the political outcomes of the intensified appropriation of Indigenous lands by British settler colonists in Australasia from the 1870s to 1910. From the 1870s to the first decade of the twentieth century, settler governments in the Australasian colonies built on their foundation years in their treatment of Indigenous political rights in their political systems. The seven colonies in the Australasian region contemplated federating into one nation state despite sharp divisions among them. Settlers wanting manhood suffrage for themselves in Australasian colonies, including New Zealand, Queensland and Western Australia, tried to keep Maori and Indigenous people in a marginalized situation. In the Electoral Bill, which was passed in 1879, politicians were enfranchised. White property-holders could have plural votes in any number of electorates, but Maori landowners were restricted to one settler electorate. In the Australasian colonies in the early 1890s, a debate on women's political rights intersected with the debates on Indigenous rights, and votes for women successfully passed through three Australasian colonial legislatures in the 1890s: New Zealand in 1893, South Australia in 1894; and Western Australia in 1899.

in Equal subjects, unequal rights
Abstract only
Dethroning And Exiling Indigenous Monarchs Under British And French Colonial Rule, 1815– 1955
Author: Robert Aldrich

The overthrow and exile of Napoleon in 1815 is a familiar episode in modern history, but it is not well known that just a few months later, British colonisers toppled and banished the last king in Ceylon. This book explores confrontations and accommodations between European colonisers and indigenous monarchs. It discusses the displacement of a few among the three dozen 'potentates' by British and French authorities from 1815 until the 1950s. The complicated relationship between the crown of a colonising country and colonial monarchies has often lain in the background of historical research, but relatively seldom appeared in the forefront except in the case of the Indian princely states. The book further examines particular cases of the deposition and exile of rulers: King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha in Ceylon in 1815, Queen Ranavalona of Madagascar in 1897, and Emperors Ham Nghi, Thanh Thai and Duy Tan in Vietnam during 1885-1916. It also provides more composite accounts of Asia and Africa: the British ouster of Indian princes, the last Burmese king and a sultan in Malaya, and then British and French removal of a host of 'chieftains' in sub-Saharan Africa. Finally, the book looks at the French colonial removal of rulers in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia - and the restoration of a Moroccan sultan on the eve of decolonisation. By the end of the colonial period, in many countries around the globe, monarchism - kingship, had lost its old potency, though it has not disappeared.