Fighting with the Empire: Canada, Britain, and Global Conflict, 1867–1947

Publication Notice |

Fighting with the Empire: Canada, Britain, and Global Conflict, 1867–1947. Steve Marti and William John Pratt. Eds. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2019.

Canadians often characterize their military history as a march toward nationhood, but in the first eighty years of Confederation they were fighting for the British Empire.

From 1867 to 1947, war or threat of war forced Canadians to consider what bound them as a nation and entangled them in a string of overseas conflicts. The contribution of Canadian lives and resources to imperial warfare supported a constitutional transition from colony to nation, but it also disrupted the comfortable logic of national imperialism and fundamentally transformed popular perceptions of Canada’s relationship to the Empire. As French Canadians, Indigenous peoples, and those with roots in Continental Europe and beyond mobilized in support of war and to protect their rights as British subjects, their participation challenged the imagined homogeneity of Canada as a British nation.

From soldiers overseas to workers and volunteers on the home front – and from the cultural ties of imperial pageantry to the social bonds of race and class – Fighting with the Empire examines the paradox of a national contribution to an imperial war effort. This insightful collection of connected case studies explores the middle ground between narratives that celebrate the emergence of a nation through warfare and those that equate Canadian nationalism with British imperialism.

This book will be of interest to scholars and graduate students of Canadian history and military history, particularly those engaged in questions of national and imperial identity and the experience of world wars.

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