The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism

Living Edition
| Editors: Immanuel Ness, Zak Cope

Culture and British Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91206-6_43-1

Empires, to achieve their objectives in pursuing commercial, territorial, and demographic resources by military means, also need to be culturally expansive. They cannot be self-effacing but must exhibit their presence through what they consider to be the superior qualities of their culture, conceived as the central aspects of their identity (MacKenzie 2016). In modern empires, this was always known as the “civilizing mission,” a mission which invariably started at home. In the British and Hibernian Isles, Ireland provides the classic case, and it is the cultural influence of England on Ireland that has proved to be most durable. Such cultural characteristics offered both the means and the alleged justification for the apparent ascendancy of imperial peoples. Empires therefore seem impelled to make cultural assertions as part of their acquisitive designs. Such statements take many forms of which perhaps the material presence of the dominant power is the most obvious – that is, the...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LancasterLancasterUK