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Anglospheres: Empire Redivivus?

Anglospheres: Empire Redivivus?

(p.38) 3 Anglospheres: Empire Redivivus?
The Anglosphere
Duncan Bell
British Academy

This chapter will explore the similarities and differences between late nineteenth-century debates on the British settler Empire and more recent visions of the Anglosphere. It suggests that the idea of the Anglosphere has deep roots in British political thought. In particular, it traces the debates over both imperial federation and Anglo-American union from the late nineteenth century onwards into the post-Brexit world. I examine three recurrent issues that have shaped arguments about the unity and potential of the ‘English-speaking peoples’: the ideal constitutional structure of the community; the economic model that it should adopt; and the role of the United States within it. I conclude by arguing that the legacy of settler colonialism, and an idealised vision of the ‘English-speaking peoples’, played a pivotal role in shaping Tory Euroscepticism from the late 1990s onwards, furnishing an influential group of politicians and public intellectuals, from Thatcher and Robert Conquest to Boris Johnson and Andrew Roberts, with an alternative non-European vision of Britain’s place in the world.

Keywords:   Anglosphere, imperial federation, Anglo-American union, settler colonialism, Euroscepticism

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