This chapter opens with an overview of the nature of middle-class West Indian understandings of Britishness, and suggests the impact of Caribbean British identity on West Indian societies in the twentieth-century colonial period. West Indians’ idea of Britishness, which combined a focus on respectability with expectations of racial and geographical inclusiveness, allowed them to form strong bonds with native Britons (persons born and bred in the British Isles) and create a place for themselves in the colonial world. As empire declined they would struggle to unravel Caribbean society from the Britishness they considered a vital part of their own identity. This introduction explores these ideas in the context of recent literature on the British World, colonial Caribbean society, decolonization, and the meaning of imperial culture, outlines the geographical and analytical parameters of the book, and provides working definitions of significant terms used in the text.
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