The Sudan Crisis: Creating Historical Memories
This chapter argues that claims of imperial unity during the Sudan crisis were troubled by the difficulties of demarcating a colonial identity internal to white Britishness. Australians were compared favourably to the ‘Arabs’ of the Sudan in their ruggedness, but could not risk straying far from the Britishness that defined them. Justifications for involvement in the war ran into awkward associations with Australian history. The diversity of the press also left room for radical challenges to the mainstream, but even these could be contradicted by the assumed right of colonial expansion. The chapter argues that much of the rhetoric surrounding the contingent can be better grasped by understanding the need to vindicate colonial history and repay the mother country for the gift of land and self-governance. As such the Sudan crises presented an opportunity to create new historical memories.