Imperial Nationalism: Nationalism and the Empire in late nineteenth century Scotland and British Canada
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The relationship between imperialism and nationalism has often been portrayed by theorists of nationalism and post colonial discourse theorists as antagonistic. Anti-democratic, aggressive empires impose their will on subject peoples who, in response, form nationalist movements in opposition to this imperialism. These movements, it is claimed, assert the nation’s right to self-determination and independence. Whilst this was undoubtedly the case in a number of anti-colonial movements, examples can be found that refute the apparently antagonistic relationship between nationalism and imperialism. Nationalism does not always advocate independence from states or empires. Imperialism can be a vehicle for a national mission or can strengthen minority nations. In certain contexts, these two anti-thetical concepts can be reconciled. The thesis investigates the reconciliation of nationalism and imperialism using the concept of imperial nationalism. This concept is used to denote a variety of nationalism that proposes reform of the state/imperial government for the benefit of the nation whilst simultaneously emphasising the benefits of the reform of the empire. An important element of the nationalist discourse will be the maintenance of the imperial connection as beneficial for the nation. A comparative historical analysis of nationalist groups in nineteenth century Scotland and Canada is used to highlight the relationship between nationalism and imperialism in the discourse of nationalist groups. Both Scotland and Canada held relatively privileged positions within the British Empire. Yet Scottish and British Canadian nationalist groups argued the existing systems for governing their respective nations were illegitimate. In Scotland, the Scottish Home Rule Association argued for a Scottish Parliament, focusing on the extent to which the United Kingdom state was unable to cope with the work created by the four home nations and the Empire. An important aspect of home rule for Scotland, however, was its extension to the other home nations and the opportunity it would present of reforming the Imperial Parliament for the benefit of the Empire, and by association Scotland. In Canada, the focus of Canada First and the Imperial Federation League in Canada was on reform of the system of Imperial governance. Canada had not been given control over relations with the United States under the British North America Act and British Canadian nationalists felt Canadian interests had not been taken into account in British dealings with the United States. The answer was to provide Canada with a voice in treaties in the short term and, in the longer term, to reform Imperial government in order to provide Canada with a voice in the affairs of the Empire as whole. The thesis investigates the extent to which these movements were nationalist, imperialist and, finally, how these two concepts were reconciled.