The British Empire was a system of total give and take. To say that the only result of the Empire was an infiltration of British culture, politics and religion on the colonies is only a one sided view. The British Empire was a system where the colonies all contributed to the growth and formation of and Imperial Identity.
English was spread throughout the world as a result of British imperialism. As Britain became the economic leader of the world English became the language of commerce. The Migration of the British, as well as Direct Rule of British officials in the colonies also brought an increase in English to the natives who need to communicate wit them. On the other hand however, native languages were also developed so that the British could communicate with the natives. William Carey is an example of one well-known missionary who created written forms of native languages so that the natives could read the Bible in their native language. To the benefit of the natives a written language allowed them to better preserve their culture and history.
Education went two ways in the empire. First the British wanted to be educated on everything about the colonies, and secondly they wanted to educate the natives. Every since the adoption of colonies both individuals and government officials were sent out to conduct research of the environments, culture, climate, resources, etc.. in all of the colonies. This often helped the British to know what the colonies could be of most use for as well as how best to rule the people. Once a significant British presence was established missionaries often with government funding would travel to the colonies to teach the natives. Proselytizing was quickly toned down so as not to upset the natives but generally the natives were excited to learn as they felt that knowledge was the “Key to the White man.”
By the late 18th century missionaries of varying denominations were spread across all of the British colonies trying to bring a Christian message to the people. By the 1890’s, however, the missionaries had a revelation. They realized that Christianity did not have to go hand in hand with a Western Society. In other words it was not necessary for the natives to speak English or dress and act like Europeans to practice a Christian faith. This revolutionized missionary work and allowed for the integration of native religious practices and culture with Christian beliefs.
Printing and publishing were first brought British colonies in 1778 when it arrives in India in the form of an English government run newspaper. Slowly the press began to expand and publications were produced in the vernacular, sometimes even without any government regulations. In the 19th and 20th centuries Film and radio broadcasting became another media that was prevalent in the colonies. The British government found the radio useful especially in time of war in order to keep the Empire united. Film was also used as a unifying tool, but in addition, was used for sales promotion to keep British trade flowing. Eventually after World War Tow with the now permanent presence of the media in the colonies it was much easier for nationalistic feelings to be spread throughout the colonies.
King George V making one of his Christmas addresses.
Images of the Empire:
19th Century Empire of Races – meaning that all humans are of one race that moves along the same line just at different paces. This idea helped to support the belief in British Imperialism for it was believe that the British were a society that had progressed to farthest. It was therefore their duty to help other to catch up. By the late 19th century new ideas were emerging that perhaps difference is societies was a positive thing, and that the progression of societies was relative. As colonies slowly became more Europeanized many researchers and Anthropologists were concerned for the loss of these different culture and societies that weren’t necessarily less civilized or less evolved than the British they were simply from different origins. By the 20th the Empire was view as a Commonwealth of Nations. This however, made many of the colonies actually want to become nations spurring the start of the deconstruction of the empire.
Raychaudhuri, Tapan. "British Rule in India: An Assessment." In The Cambridge Illustrated History of the British Empire, by P. J. Marshall, 357-69. Cambridge[England: Cambridge University Press, 1996.