In the last 20 years, scholars have established that the Empire mattered more to 'ordinary' eighteenth-century Britons 'at home' than once assumed. They still disagree, however, about when popular imperial consciousness first arose and what it looked like. A study of the popular responses to various visits by indigenous people from the empire to Britain through the eighteenth century suggests that an imperial consciousness emerged as early as the 1710s. Moreover, this article contends that such a consciousness was always ambivalent, containing as much anxiety about empire as it did celebration. The article addresses work particularly by Kathleen Wilson, Bob Harris, Jack Greene, and J. G. A. Pocock.
- eighteenth century
- popular culture