AbstractWhat do we understand by the notion of being ‘British’ in the British Empire? This was an issue of political, legal and media debate and dispute. But, while a rich literature has considered how being British was an identity available to ‘non-white’ subjects in the empire, existing works often engage in the binary discussion of only the indigenous and British communities, neglecting other
ethnicities also present in colonies. This thesis proposes a different answer to this question through the prism of colonial Hong Kong between the two World Wars. I ask what did being British mean, and who was British. Drawing on legal cases, public discussions, civil society, and education, I identify a sizable group of ‘multiracial Britons’ who actively engaged themselves with notions of Britishness in interwar Hong Kong. This thesis examines closely various forms
of cross-cultural interactions – between white Britons and British subjects of colour; between Chinese students from British Malaya; British Hong Kong, and mainland China; between Anglophile Portuguese Eurasians and ‘patriotic’ Portuguese Eurasians; and between white Britons and other Europeans. As I investigate their understanding of Britishness, this thesis also explains how colonialism affected the development of diasporic, civic, and urban identities in
twentieth-century Asia. I argue that Hong Kong’s multi-ethnic population, urban setting, and transnational connections enabled Britishness to develop as not only a ‘race’, a legal identity, and a national belonging, but also an imperial tool, a civic sensibility, and a cultural attribute, and so on.
|Date of Award||24 Jul 2019|
|Supervisor||Su Lin Lewis (Supervisor) & Robert Bickers (Supervisor)|