This book explores the phenomenon of Independence Days. These rituals had complex meanings both in the territories concerned and in Britain as the imperial metropole, where they were extensively reported in the press. The text is concerned with the political management, associated rhetoric and iconography of these seminal celebrations. The focus is therefore very much on political culture in a broad sense, and changing perceptions and presentations over time. Highlights of the book include an overview by David Cannadine relating the topic to ornamentalism, invented tradition and transitions in British culture. Although the book is mainly concerned with the British Empire, Martin Shipway – a leading historian and cultural analyst of French decolonization – contributes an acute summary of how the same ‘moment’ was handled differently in the other great European empires. There are detailed and lively studies by noted specialists of the immediate coming of Independence to India/Pakistan, Malaya, Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Guyana. The book includes a thematic focus on the important role of representatives of the British monarchy in legitimating transfers of sovereignty at their point of climax.
This book was published as a special issue of The Round Table.
1. Preface Susan Williams, Robert Holland and Terry A. Barringer 2. Introduction: Independence Day Ceremonials in Historical Perspective David Cannadine 3. Independence Day and the Crown Philip Murphy 4. ‘‘At the Stroke of the Midnight Hour’’: Lord Mountbatten and the British Media at Indian Independence Chandrika Kaul 5. The Ending of an Empire: From Imagined Communities to Nation States in India and Pakistan Yasmin Khan 6. Casting ‘‘the Kingdome into another mold’’: Ghana’s Troubled Transition to Independence Richard Rathbone 7. Whose Freedom at Midnight? Machinations towards Guyana’s Independence, May 1966 Clem Seecharan 8. Freedom at Midnight: A Microcosm of Zimbabwe’s Hopes and Dreams at Independence, April 1980 Sue Onslow 9. ‘Transfer of Destinies’, or Business as Usual? Republican Invented Tradition and the Problem of ‘Independence’ at the End of the French Empire Martin Shipway 10. Merdeka! Looking Back at Independence Day in Malaya, 31 August 1957 A.J. Stockwell