Distance and Proximity in Service to the Empire: Ulster and New Zealand between the Wars

Keith Jeffery

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2 Citations (Scopus)


This essay uses the concepts of ‘distance’ and ‘proximity’ to investigate and assess perceptions of community, nation and empire in inter-war New Zealand and Ulster (as well as Ireland and Northern Ireland) within a British imperial context, and explores the extent to which service of the empire (for example in the First World War) promoted both notions of imperial unity and local autonomy. It focuses on how these perceptions were articulated in the inter-war years during visits to Northern Ireland by three New Zealand premiers – Massey, Forbes and Coates – and to New Zealand by the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Lord Craigavon. It discusses the significant ways in which distance from their ‘home base’ and proximity to expatriate communities (in Craigavon's case) and Irish unionists and nationalists (in the case of the New Zealand premiers) inflected public statements during their visits. By examining these inter-war visits and investigating the rhetoric used and the cultural demonstrations associated with them, the factors of both distance and proximity can be used to evaluate similarities and difference across two parts of the empire. Thus, we can throw some light on the nature and dynamics of British imperial identity in the early twentieth century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-472
Number of pages20
JournalThe Journal of Imperial & Commonwealth History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History


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