Fight or Flight: Britain, France, and the Roads from Empire by Martin Thomas

By Martin Thomas

Even supposing shattered by means of conflict, in 1945 Britain and France nonetheless managed the world's biggest colonial empires, with imperial territories stretched over 4 continents. and so they seemed made up our minds to maintain them: the roll-call of British and French politicians, squaddies, settlers and writers who promised in note and print at the present to protect their colonial possessions in any respect charges is an extended one. but, inside two decades either empires had nearly thoroughly disappeared.

The cave in was once cataclysmic. peaceful 'transfers of power' have been eclipsed through episodes of territorial partition and mass violence whose sour aftermath nonetheless lingers. hundreds of thousands of hundreds of thousands throughout 4 continents have been stuck up within the largest reconfiguration of the overseas procedure ever visible.

In the intervening time, even the main dogged imperialists, who had as soon as stiffly defended imperial rule, finally bent to the wind of switch. via the early Fifties Winston Churchill had retreated from his wartime pledge to maintain Britain's Empire intact. And normal de Gaulle, who hand over the French presidency in 1946 complaining that France's new post-war democracy could by no means dangle directly to the country's imperial prizes, narrowly escaped assassination a new release later - after negotiating the humiliating French withdrawal from Algeria.

Fight or Flight is the 1st ever comparative account of this dramatic cave in, explaining the top of the British and French colonial empires as an intertwined, even co-dependent procedure. Decolonization amassed momentum, no longer as an empire-specific affair, yet as a world one, within which the broader march of twentieth-century historical past performed an integral part: business focus and worldwide melancholy, international conflict and chilly struggle, Communism and different anti-colonial ideologies, mass consumerism and the attract of yankee pop culture. specially, as Martin Thomas exhibits, the internationalization of colonial affairs made it most unlikely to comprise colonial difficulties in the neighborhood, spelling the top for Europe's biggest colonial empires in under twenty years from the top of the second one international battle.

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Fight or Flight: Britain, France, and the Roads from Empire

Even though shattered by way of warfare, in 1945 Britain and France nonetheless managed the world's greatest colonial empires, with imperial territories stretched over 4 continents. they usually seemed decided to maintain them: the roll-call of British and French politicians, squaddies, settlers and writers who promised in observe and print at the present to protect their colonial possessions in any respect bills is an extended one.

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It has been argued, for instance, that the celebrated realism of Jan van Eyck, for example, or Pieter de Hooch (illus. 1 One might say that for the iconographers, paintings are not simply to be looked at: they are to be ‘read’. Today, the idea has become commonplace. ’ The idea of reading images actually goes back a long way. Within the Christian tradition it was expressed by the fathers of the church and most famously by Pope Gregory the Great (Chapter 3). The French artist Nicolas Poussin (1594–1665) wrote about his painting of Israelites gathering manna, ‘read the story and the painting’ (lisez l’histoire et le tableau).

The iconography of the land itself is particularly obvious in the case of gardens and parks. There are also the typical or symbolic landscapes that represent nations by means of their characteristic vegetation, from oaks to pines and from palm trees to eucalyptus. 8 If the physical landscape is an image that can be read, then the painted landscape is the image of an image. In the case of painted landscape, the weaknesses of the iconographical approach may well appear obvious. It seems to be no more than common sense to suggest that landscape painters want to give viewers aesthetic pleasure rather than to communicate a message.

Hence they are also a means for historians to recover past religious experiences – provided, of course, that they are able to interpret the iconography. In what follows, the four functions just mentioned will be discussed one by one. Images and Indoctrination The need for certain kinds of knowledge as a precondition for understanding the meaning of religious images is obvious enough to most westerners in the case of images from other religious traditions. Deciphering the meaning of the hand gestures of the Buddha, for example, such as touching the ground with his right hand to call the earth to witness his enlightenment, requires some knowledge of the Buddhist scriptures.

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