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By Anne Spry Rush

Within the first half the 20th century Britishness was once a vital part of the tradition that pervaded lifestyles within the colonial Caribbean. Caribbean peoples have been inspired to spot with social constructions and cultural values touted as intrinsically British. Many middle-class West Indians of color duly followed Britishness as a part of their very own identification. but, as Anne Spry Rush explains in Bonds of Empire, at the same time they re-fashioned themselves, West Indians recast Britishness of their personal photo, basing it on hierarchical rules of respectability that have been characteristically British, but in addition on extra sleek expectancies of racial and geographical inclusiveness. Britain turned the point of interest of an imperial British id, an identification which stood break free, and but in detail regarding, their robust emotions for his or her tropical homelands.

Moving from the heights of empire in 1900 to the independence period of the Nineteen Sixties, Rush argues that middle-class West Indians used their realizing of Britishness first to set up a spot for themselves within the British imperial global, after which to barter the demanding situations of decolonization. via a spotlight on schooling, voluntary association, the demanding situations of conflict, radio broadcasting, and British royalty, she explores how this strategy labored within the day-by-day lives of West Indians in either the Caribbean and the British Isles. Bonds of Empire therefore lines West Indians' participation in a fancy means of cultural transition as they manipulated Britishness and their dating to it not just as colonial peoples but additionally as Britons.

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Indeed, the role of education in signaling and often in endowing middle-class status, in some cases regardless of color or creed, was so great for West Indians that they came to consider the very form and content of that education—its Britishness—as having intrinsic value. And, because the schools that conveyed this culture were accessible (to varying degrees) to pupils of both genders and all colors and creeds, they sent the message that educated West Indians of all kinds were included—indeed, were an integral part—of that Britishness.

Such was the case for Kingston College, a Jamaican boys’ school founded in 1925 by Percival William Gibson, a black Anglican priest who would become the first native Jamaican archbishop. 44 Gibson was only one of a number of local dark-skinned men who, as the various denominations accepted increasing numbers of clergy of color, became involved in 43 Hardie to Cox, Letter, 24 February 1942 (CO1045/548). Hardie remained at Cornwall College until 1942, when he became headmaster of Jamaica College (simultaneously serving as the Anglican bishop of Jamaica).

9 Campbell, Young Colonials, 31–3; Jamaica, ‘Annual Report of the Education Department for the Year Ended 31 December 1949’, 1–3; Hauch, Educational Trends in the Caribbean, 23–5; Schooling Britons 25 As was the case in Britain itself, educational authorities in the Caribbean saw little need to teach the majority of the population—those who were destined to be agricultural laborers, factory workers, and artisans—anything beyond the most basic skills (reading, writing, and arithmetic). 10 Thus, when Austin Clarke entered Combermere School in the 1940s, he joined the ranks of what had long been an elite group of Britons—in the colonies as in the mother country.

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