The View From Abroad
Section One - The Empire: Constructions of Britishness - 9
Section One The Empire: Constructions of Britishness Charles V. Reed 1 Respectable Subjects of the Queen: The Royal Tour of 1901 and Imperial Citizenship in South Africa Historian Vivian Bickford-Smith has recently characterized Britishness as South Africa’s ‘forgotten nationalism,’ lost in a historiography that pays far more attention to African and Afrikaner nationalisms than to Britishness.1 It has been remembered, we might suggest, in a f lurry of recent scholarship on the subject. Historians of the ‘British world,’ for instance, have under- stood Britishness as a kind of trans-nationalism, born out of the diaspora of British ideas, institutions, and people throughout the world. At the same time, scholars of Britishness have been apt to stress that it was not some pre-packaged set of ideas or identities, but the product of complex historical discourses and processes mediated and remade by local percep- tions and encounters. This chapter explores the reception of the 1901 royal tour to South Africa by the independent African press, the editors of which imagined the British Empire to be their political and cultural universes. Scholars, however, have rarely presented Western-educated people of colour in such a light. Post-colonial and other area studies scholars have treated the historical actors presented here in skilful and sophisticated ways but struggle perhaps too diligently to excise them from the spectre of collaboration, to really see them as sly subverters of the colonial order or to understand ‘mimicry’ as a form of anti-colonial resistance.2 On the 1 V. Bickford-Smith, ‘Writing...
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