By D. Stephen
This much-needed examine of the British Empire Exhibition unearths sturdy, continual connections among empire and family society in Britain throughout the interwar years. It demonstrates that the Exhibition used to be a marker of ways by way of 1924, imperial family have been more and more prone to be formed through forces positioned at the colonial outer edge.
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Additional info for The Empire of Progress: West Africans, Indians, and Britons at the British Empire Exhibition, 1924–25
Nevertheless, the political turbulence of the early 1920s brought frequent changes of government and major shifts in party alignments, making the eventual failure of imperial politics difficult for contemporaries to foresee. From 1919 onward, public bodies, civic and industrial organizations, the royal family, and the British government rallied around the exhibition as a tsunami of propaganda washed over the United Kingdom. The extent and volume of press, film, and other forms of coverage surpassed its predecessors and the great exhibitions that followed: the Glasgow Exhibition (1938), the Festival of Britain (1951), and the Millennium Experience (1999–2000).
58 The exhibition’s executive council also permitted an amusement park to be added to the fairground, and rides such as “the switchback” and “the wiggle-waggle” became stellar attractions, as would a full-size sculpture of the Prince of Wales carved from Canadian butter. Nevertheless, organizers had greater ambitions than distracting fairgoers from Britain’s postwar problems. The British Empire Exhibition was intended to serve as an open-air schoolroom “educating the masses” about the location, ethnography, and economic potential of imperial territories.
Indian nationalists raised issues of economic exploitation and the “drain of wealth,” and were successful in mobilizing opposition forces following the publication of the 1923 Devonshire Declaration, which led to widespread charges of racial discrimination affecting Indians living in East Africa, though these events occurred too late to halt India’s participation in the show at London. Britain purported to be leading an “economic revolution” in West Africa that would greatly expand the region’s trade with Britain and the outside world.
The Empire of Progress: West Africans, Indians, and Britons at the British Empire Exhibition, 1924–25 by D. Stephen