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The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume IV: The Twentieth Century$
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Judith Brown and Wm Roger Louis

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205647

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205647.001.0001

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Commonwealth Legacy

Commonwealth Legacy

(p.693) 30 Commonwealth Legacy
The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume IV: The Twentieth Century


Oxford University Press

This chapter reports the organizational legacy of the old British Empire in an international context. ‘Commonwealth’, which began as a synonym for Empire, came to signify its antithesis. The ‘British Commonwealth of Nations’ was quite different from the ‘Commonwealth of Nations’ which South Africa quit in 1961. Until 1965, the Commonwealth constituted a special ‘club’ (in the commonly used sobriquet) within the Empire. The post-colonial, post-Britannic Commonwealth achieved a niche among international organizations. There was also a big transition from the ‘Commonwealth and Empire’ of Imperial rhetoric in the 1920s to 1940s, which was an integral part of Empire history and had an important role in the decolonization process, to the expanding post-Britannic Commonwealth, which remains the most noticeable part of the Imperial legacy after the English language and cricket.

Keywords:   British Commonwealth, British Empire, Empire history, Imperial rhetoric, decolonization, Imperial legacy, international context

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