Backing Britain?: Imagining a nation's global economic future since 1900
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Has co-investigator David Thackeray
Has principal investigator David Thackeray
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Impact This project will achieve a broad public impact by engaging with a range of practitioners from outside academic life such as governmental organisations and business organisations, who are grappling with similar and related questions, yet speaking to different audiences. An exhibition will be held at the Bill Douglas Centre for Film Studies (BDC), Exeter enabling project findings to be disseminated to local schools and student groups. I am involved in the BDC's digitisation programme and see this project as feeding into our plans for digitising film materials related to representations of Empire. The exhibition will be promoted by accompanying talks in local venues such as the Royal Albert Memorial Musuem. It will also complement an AHRC-sponsored project which assesses present-day responses to Empire Marketing Board posters held by Manchester City Galleries, but will offer a historical perspective on how imperial and post-imperial identities were negotiated in British visual culture. The exhibition will be supported by a research workshop: 'Britain's global identity in documentary film culture, c.1926-73', which is intended to form the basis of a journal special issue. The implications that the project has for understandings of Britain's networks of trade and investment will be discussed in papers for Vox and the Institute for Public Policy Research. Vox is run by the Centre for Economic Policy Research, and publishes research-based policy analysis and commentary in conjunction with several European organisations. Their intended audience is economists in governments, international organisations and journalists, recent publications such as 'The UK in a Global World', edited by David Greenaway, overlap with the concerns of the fellowship project. The Centre has previously developed publications with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills who are an important potential audience for research findings. The IPPR is a prominent think-tank, which has published a number of policy papers focused on the challenges facing the global economy. Moreover, the project's focus on historical ideas of Britain's economic future has contemporary relevance given the current financial crisis, so there is likely to be keen media interest. I have previous experience producing opinion pieces for the local press and plan to produce similar items for national broadsheets. The fellowship publications will build on a variety of forms of knowledge exchange promoted by the Imagining Markets network, which I plan to contribute to in collaboration with Andrew Thompson and Richard Toye. There will be two stakeholder seminars at the final network workshop in Cambridge. A witness seminar will give an opportunity to consult a range of figures involved in processes such as EEC negotiations and trade agreements with China will provide first-hand testimony. The transcripts of the witness seminar will be published online by Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge. Through its witness seminar programme, the Churchill Archives Centre has been at the forefront of debating key events in contemporary history, participants have included former international leaders and members of British cabinets. This session and the related policy seminar, where policy experts and academics will discuss current challenges in international trade policy, feeds into a proposed paper for History and Policy, which provides a forum for historians to engage with policy-makers.
Status Closed
Identifier AH/K006967/1
abstract In recent years historians have shown a great deal of interest in how national economies have stimulated, contested and resisted globalisation. Nineteenth-century Britain is recognised as a leading actor in the development of the global economic order through its role in stimulating the Atlantic economy and creating networks of imperial trade. Yet whilst we know much about the cultural economy of the 'British world' of trade in the Victorian era, there are few similar works exploring the twentieth century. This study focuses on how Britain's economic future and relationship with its overseas markets has been imagined, debated and contested since 1900: a tumultuous period in which free trade and protectionism have fluctuated in support, the imperial economy was gradually dismantled, and the European Union has taken shape. In line with the AHRC's Care for the Future theme this project will break new ground in creating a bridge between historical and contemporary ways of discussing Britain's future global economic identity. Building on existing international research collaboration, it will evaluate the changing ways that Britain's economic direction and its overseas markets have been imagined and conceptualised by a range of different actors and the implications that this has for the nation's future economic identity in the current day. Drawing on a range of archives, attention will focus on the perspectives of governmental organisations, businesses, civil society organisations, marketers and advertisers. This project will pay particular attention to the changing ways in which British and overseas goods were presented in patriotic purchasing campaigns such as 'Buy British' in 1931, the Australian British buying campaigns of the 1940s, and 'I'm Backing Britain' in 1968. The notion of defining a product or company as 'British', 'imperial' or 'foreign' was vital to understandings of national and imperial economic identity. Recent work has explored how a 'British world' identity emerged in the nineteenth century, with the development of networks of migration, trade and culture which bolstered links between Britain and settler communities. Much of the most innovative work in this field has focused on the perspectives of settler societies within the British Empire. However, the cultural debates which surrounded the unravelling of this 'British world' of economic networks in the twentieth century are less well understood. This project will include archival research in Australia and New Zealand, thereby offering new perspectives on how external actors in the Empire/ Commonwealth fed into key debates about Britain's economic future, promoting, questioning and contesting ideas about a 'British world' of economic networks. Project findings will be discussed with the public in an exhibition held in collaboration with the Bill Douglas Centre for Film Studies, with academics from a variety of disciplines at an accompanying research workshop, and in policy papers for the Centre for Economic Policy Research and Institute for Public Policy Research. Two research articles will be produced for the Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History and the Journal of Modern History, which provide the foundation for a monograph. International debate will be stimulated by UK-Chinese research workshops to be held in Exeter and Beijing. Britain's position during the current global financial crisis is heavily influenced by the historical development of international trade networks, which means that its economy is significantly more reliant on external markets than competitors in North America and Europe. This project will offer fresh understandings of how these networks were understood as Britain negotiated its role in the global economy over the last century. By offering historical insights into the 'economic imagination' of Britain it provides new perspectives on the foundations of the nation's identity in today's globalised economy.
Type Project
Label Backing Britain?: Imagining a nation's global economic future since 1900
Title Backing Britain?: Imagining a nation's global economic future since 1900

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University of Exeter Of
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