Selling Britishness: the projection of Britain after the Second World War
Maguire, Paddy (2006) Selling Britishness: the projection of Britain after the Second World War In: Collective Memory, University of East Anglia.Full text not available from this repository.
Placed in the specific context of contemporary historical debates about the construction of memory and group/national identities, Maguire’s work examines the construction of a state-sponsored version of British history developed in order to propagate alleged cultural and commercial values for foreign consumption through the medium of overseas exhibitions, trade fairs and other promotional vehicles. Building on his earlier research initiatives, published in the Journal of Design History and elsewhere, Maguire explores, in some detail, a little considered and previously ignored area of the state’s ideological construction of national identity. Utilising a wide range of prime government, and other, archival papers, this contribution examines the nature of the influences on the portrayals of 'Britishness' in the immediate post-war period (see also Woodham, output 4). In particular, it focuses on the uses of ‘tradition’ in promoting conceptions of historical continuity and dependence, whilst also examining the rival demands of promoting images of ‘modernity’ and industrial efficiency in overseas promotional activities. Through an analysis of a range of official overseas promotions during the period, this paper analyses contemporary and subsequent evaluations of the ‘official history’ of Britain as promoted through such events as exhibitions, trade fairs, ‘British weeks’ and other similar activities. Maguire’s focus on the official constructions of national characteristics - and the overseas projection thereof - raises significant interpretative issues in reassessing not just the dominant cultural assumptions of an elite of policy makers in the state apparatus, but also the significance of previously un- or under-utilised sources for historians of design and culture in the immediate post-war period.
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