The Order of the British Empire after the British Empire

Toby  Harper

by UTP Journals on January 11, 2018

Written by guest blogger, Toby Harper.


2017 was the centenary of the Order of the British Empire. Lloyd George’s war government created it in 1917 to recognize the voluntary civilian war effort in Britain and throughout the British Empire. At the time it was without precedent in the British honours system. It was distributed on a far greater scale and to a wider social range than any previous honour, most of which had been reserved for a narrow band of social and political elites. Today the Order is still the most numerically-important of all the state honours given out twice a year by the British Crown to citizens who have been judged worthy of recognition.

Since the 1950s politicians, journalists and potential recipients in both the former empire and Britain have argued that the name is offensive, inaccurate, and anachronistic. This debate flared up again last year at the Order’s centenary. One of the main objections to changing the name at the centenary was that it was difficult or impossible to formally change the name of an order. This was not true: the Order was an invented tradition which had changed multiple times, evolving with changing requirements of British and sometimes even colonial governments. Yet this has been a common defense of the name, along with numerous other objections: that the name was popular; that Australians liked it (a decade before they dropped it); that only the wrong sort of colonial subjects disliked it; that those who disliked it were in a minority; that those who disliked it did not understand it; that Prince Philip (who proposed a name change) was a meddler; and that the name had historic, traditional weight.

My article in the Canadian Journal of History charts the sporadic debates about the name in parliament, the press, Whitehall, and the Palace. It shows how a small group of civil servants defended the name against objections from a range of people who worried that it compromised the Crown or the Government in their relationships with colonial, former colonial, and British citizens. At the core of this defense of the name, I argue, was a nostalgia for empire that sought to defuse its legacy. The name was not problematic or offensive, its defender’s argued, but quaint. The Order was transmuted almost overnight from an imperial to a national one, in the process forgetting its roots in imperial politics and ideology. By the beginning of the twenty-first century this meant that British citizens of imperial descent were effectively offered a deal: accept this nostalgic version of empire in order to be included, or reject it and be alienated from a widely publicized and generally popular national institution. In other words, the Order of the British Empire now offers official inclusion at the price of forgetting empire.

Toby Harper is an assistant professor of history at Providence College, Rhode Island. His latest article, “The Order of the British Empire After the British Empire,” appears in issue 52.3 of the Canadian Journal of History/Annales Canadiennes d’Histoire and is available here for FREE for a limited time:

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Written by guest blogger, Katherine Turner.

Cover of Mary Anne by Daphne du MaurierCover of Mary Anne by Daphne du Maurier

I first became aware of Mary Anne Clarke when I was asked to edit a group of scandalous memoirs by 18th-century and Regency women (Women’s Court and Society Memoirs, published in 2010 by Pickering and Chatto, now Routledge). Although writing the voluminous footnotes proved to be a grim task, I became fascinated by how these women mixed up the popular genres of memoir, scandal narrative and political satire to vindicate themselves to a reading public hungry for tales of misbehavior in high places. One of the texts I edited was The Rival Princes, an exposé published in 1810 by the courtesan Mary Anne Clarke of her role in a national scandal which had almost brought down the government in 1809 when it was revealed that she had used her adulterous relationship with the Duke of York to acquire promotions for cronies of hers in the army, the church, the East India Company, and even the House of Commons. When the scandal broke, Clarke was the star witness in a protracted Parliamentary trial which was reported in gleeful detail in the newspapers. The case also inspired many satirical cartoons which reached every corner of Britain, their saucy images of the Duke of York and his mistress in bed together doing yet further damage to the shaky reputation of the British royal family. Many of the cartoons, some by the Regency’s finest satirical artists such as Cruikshank and Rowlandson, can be viewed via the British Museum‘s excellent website; simply search the collections (for ‘images only’) using the term “Mary Anne Clarke,” and a whopping 189 items appear. (The British Museum’s copyright regulations prohibit electronic transmission, so alas I am unable to reproduce them here.)

In tandem with my historical research into the scandal, I soon discovered that Clarke was the great-great-grandmother of Daphne du Maurier, and that in 1954 du Maurier published a fictionalized biography of Clarke, entitled Mary Anne. Happy to have an excuse to escape from historical footnotes, I indulged myself for a few months by reading through most of du Maurier’s fictional oeuvre. Like many of du Maurier’s readers, I was drawn in by her tight plotting, evocative sense of place, and complex (even villainous) female characters, and by the subtexts of feminist indignation which run through many of her novels. Virago have recently reissued many of the novels with pithy introductions by contemporary women writers and critics, and if you don’t know them already, then I urge you to rush out right now and get copies. They make excellent reading for the holiday season, whether you’re in search of tense psychological drama (RebeccaMy Cousin Rachel) or more bodice-ripping historical yarns (Jamaica Inn).

Mary Anne, as my recent article in UTQ observes, is a bit of an anomaly for du Maurier; since it was grounded in so much historical reality, du Maurier had less imaginative freedom than when writing her other works, and she clearly found the translation of her historical ancestor into a novelistic character to be quite a challenge. But in many ways this is one of her greatest achievements; not only does du Maurier bring to life a complex and colorful period in English history, which captured the public imagination in ways similar to cases such as the OJ Simpson trial or the Clinton impeachment; she also uses the novel to meditate upon her own literary ancestry, and to trace her own creative energies back to this indomitable woman. Mary Anne Clarke comes across as both heroine and victim, and the way in which she exposes the powerful men who exploited and ultimately abandoned her continues to resonate today.

Katherine Turner‘s article “Daphne du Maurier’s Mary Anne: Rewriting the Regency Romance as Feminist History” can be found in the latest issue of University of Toronto Quarterly. Read it online here:

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Proust Questionnaire

R. Darren Gobert is the author of The Mind-Body Stage (Stanford University Press), The Theatre of Caryl Churchill (Bloomsbury), and numerous articles on modern and contemporary drama, dramatic and performance theory, and the philosophy of theatre. His honours include best-book prizes from the Canadian Association for Theatre Research and the American Society for Theatre Research, the John Charles Polanyi Prize for Literature, and both the Dean’s Award (2007) and President’s University-Wide Award for Outstanding Teaching (2016) at York University, where he teaches in English and Theatre & Performance Studies. He is also appointed to the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto, where he edits Modern Drama.

Q: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A: When the right subject finds the right verb.

Q: What is your greatest fear?

A: Running out of ideas.

Q: What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

A: Impatience.

Q: What is the trait you most deplore in others?

A: Lack of consideration.

Q: Which living person do you most admire?

A: Mary Norris.

Q: What is your greatest extravagance?

A: Travel!

Q: What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

A: “Productivity”.

Q: When and where were you happiest?

A: Whenever I see a perfect, final proof.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

A: My introversion.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement?

A: Whatever piece of writing I have just finished, for a few minutes before I revert to nitpicking.

Q: What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

A: Reading, say, the New York Times and seeing “less” when “fewer” is meant.

Q: What is your most marked characteristic?

A: Attention to detail.

Q: What do you most value in your friends?

A: A sense of humour.

Q: Who are your favorite writers?

A: Too many to list, but currently I’m dazzled by Selma Lagerlöf.

Q: What is it that you most dislike?

A: Indifference to good writing (which is distinct from difficulty writing well).

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Empowering Diversity

by UTP Journals on November 7, 2017

Written by guest blogger, Dr. Walter Schultz.

Empowering diversity, thereby securing a multicultural society, may depend on how we retain the unique human person within the context of family, ethnicity and culture. How do we reconcile or, if need be, overcome individualism and collectivism? The person, developed and sustained within community, is the key. Jacques Maritain, a far too neglected Christian philosopher from the twentieth century, confronted the smug, bourgeois individualism of his time, arguing that the promotion of private freedoms paved the way for the totalitarian monstrosities which plagued the latter half of his century. Maritain was prescient, ahead of the current, popular postmodern critique of the rational, self-serving individual prone to attaining power through totalitarian structures and ideologies which colonize and marginalize the other. However, if any credibility is allowed the many condemnatory critics of postmodernism from the Left and the Right (among them Noam Chomsky, Charles Taylor and Jordan Peterson), postmodernism may be offering us a fallacious and finally dangerous interpretation of the myriad struggles against oppressive forces currently unfolding.

Maritain distinguishes between individual and person: the individual denotes the material pole of a human being, the biological organization housing our instinctual drives and spatiotemporal orientation; the human being is a person by virtue of a spiritual pole, the seat of intellect and will. Each human being is a unique composite of the two, and orientation toward one to the diminishment or exclusion of the other is perceived by Maritain as pathology. It is precisely the intellectual nature of the human composite which elevates it in the most formidable way: “In intellectual creatures alone,” Maritain tells us referencing the mediaeval theologian, Thomas Aquinas, “. . . is found the image of God. In no other creature, not even in the universe as a whole, is this found ” (Maritain, 1972, pp. 18-19).

It is crucial to recognize that Maritain’s focus on uniqueness points the way toward a truly human community and society acknowledging the inalienable rights of all, wherein each is for all and all is for each. Being concerned with developing a healthy human composite, empowerment involves family, ethnicity and culture without diminishing the unique person. As Maritain would have it:

The common good of the city is neither the mere collection of private goods, nor the proper good of a whole which, like the species with respect to its individuals or the hive with respect to its bees, relates the parts to itself alone and sacrifices them to itself. It is the good human life of the multitude, of a multitude of persons; it is their communion in good living. It is therefore common to both the whole and the parts into which it flows back and which, in turn, must benefit from it (Maritain, 1972, pp. 50-51).

Failing to acknowledge the full stature of the human person as the image of God in community, humanity can only fall back into its material individuality. As the icons of postmodernism, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari would have it, human bodies participate in creative desire and power as isolated members of a greater whole. For Deleuze and Guattari, such emphasis on varied intensities of desire is founded within a univocal conceptualization of being. Failing to acknowledge the difference of human beings truly unique while analogically similar, as is the case with Aquinas and Maritain, returns us full circle to the very source of the power struggles marring the development of Western culture. Daniel M. Bell, Jr., a contributor to the radical orthodoxy project, which maintains a theological perspective that looks back to the origins of the Church while investigating modern and postmodern thought, summarizes the failure of postmodernism to escape the hegemonic forces which colonize and marginalize the other:

From whence cometh the confidence that the flows of desire, deprived of any shared end and barred from analogous participation in the other (which entails desire be understood not merely as assertive or creative, but also as receptive), will not simply collide in absolute war? As was perhaps most famously pointed out by Thomas Hobbes, the sort of nominalist-voluntarist account of desire that Deleuze advocates requires a teleology (whether divinely given or imposed by a secular state) to avoid a state of bellum omnis contra omnem (Bell, 2001, p.34).


Daniel M. Bell, Jr. (2001). Liberation Theology After the End of History: The Refusal to Cease Suffering. London and New York: Routledge.
Jacques Maritain. (1972). The Person and the Common Good. Translated by John J. Fitzgerald. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press.

Walter Schultz is an Auxiliary Professor in the Faculty of Philosophy at the Dominican University College. Look out for Dr. Schultz’s article “Liberation, Postmodernism and Jacques Maritain: Confronting Individualism and Collectivism in the Twenty-First Century” in the upcoming Fall 2017 issue of the Toronto Journal of Theology.

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Written by the Canadian Journal of History/Annales Canadiennes d’Histoire

Jan Záhořík is an Africanist who teaches at the department of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen. His article on the Cold War relationship between the former Czechoslovakia and Congo/Zaire is available in the latest issue of the CJH/ACH.

CJH/ACH: What made you pursue a career in history?

JZ: My main focus is on African history and politics, and secondary on European-African relations. I have been attracted by African history and politics because I have seen it as something totally different from European history with its nation-states, world wars, and big –isms throughout the 20th century. African history seemed to me much more complex. For instance, in order to understand African politics, one has to take into account lots of things we do not think about in Europe that much, such as religion, ethnicity, clan identity, territory, mythology, etc. And when it comes to the so-called big history, like Czechoslovak-African relations, it only shows how everything in history is interlinked.

CJH/ACH: When dealing with a topic that has so many historical actors, how do you keep track of all the parties involved and make sense of their actions? How does incorporating so many perspectives impact your research – for example, your archival visits?

JZ: I see history and historical events as [a] network in which everything happens as a reaction or in interaction with other events, or actors. I also believe in broader social scientific research that goes beyond pure archival research. History is about interpretation, and about complexities. From my point of view, as an historian of Africa, I do not believe so much in history being done by great personalities but rather as a complex set of relations, actions, reactions, and interactions where everything is in one way or another interlinked.

CJH/ACH: Your article uses documents that have only recently been opened up to research. What does it mean for historians when new documents are uncovered and/or released?

JZ: It is absolutely great. First, there is this feeling that perhaps no one before you has ever read or analyzed the materials so you are the first one using them for scholarly purposes. Second, it extends our understanding of events that have not been fully researched or analyzed.

CJH/ACH: Can you comment on the importance of archival work to history?

JZ: Archival work is obviously important, one of the main parts of historical research. But as I said, as an historian of Africa, I do not rely solely on archival research because history is about interpretations. It, of course, depends on a particular topic but generally any kind of source, whether unpublished or published, is a useful tool for our understanding of the studied problem. Therefore, students should primarily read, and read in order to not only broaden their knowledge but also critically think about different approaches to historical thinking, different views on a particular problem, and therefore different interpretations.

CJH/ACH: What do you think the role of the historian is in today’s world?

JZ: The way we understand our history is the way we will shape our future. That sounds perhaps too simplistic but we see in everyday life, in the media, attempts to “rewrite” history, to question brutalities of Nazism, Communism, and other –isms in the 20th century. So there is a significant space for historians, as well as other scholars, to analyze and explain various historical processes to [the] general public, because what happened yesterday may affect what will happen tomorrow, to simplify it a little bit.

Part 1 is online here.

Read Jan Záhořík’s article “Czechoslovakia and Congo/Zaire under Mobutu, 1965-1980” FREE for a limited time online here:

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In Memoriam: Anita DeVivo, 26 June 1930–29 September 2017

November 1, 2017

Anita DeVivo was a Consulting Editor of Scholarly Publishing (now the Journal of Scholarly Publishing) from October 1979 to July 1992 (volumes 11–23) under the editorship of Ian Montagnes. She served in a leadership and consulting capacity for a wide range of professional organizations, including the Society for Scholarly Publishing, the Council of Biology Editors, […]

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An interview between the Canadian Journal of History/Annales Canadiennes d’Histoire and Jan Záhořík, author of “Czechoslovakia and Congo/Zaire under Mobutu, 1965-1980” (Part 1 of 2)

October 30, 2017

Written by the Canadian Journal of History/Annales Canadiennes d’Histoire Author Dr. Jan Záhořík Jan Záhořík is an Africanist who teaches at the department of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen. His article on the Cold War relationship between the former Czechoslovakia and Congo/Zaire is available in the latest issue of […]

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Attempting to Publish with Images of a Super™ Well-Known Intellectual Property

October 26, 2017

Written by guest blogger, Christopher B. Zeichmann. Image from Look Magazine 17 Feb 1940. Christopher B. Zeichmann, “Champion of the Oppressed: Redescribing the Jewishness of Superman as Populist Authenticity Politics.” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 29.2 (Summer 2017) – now available to read here It’s exciting enough to get a manuscript accepted for publication, […]

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September 14, 2017

Written by guest blogger, Eric Spalding.   Eric-Spalding, University of the Fraser Valley Below is a playlist to listen to while reading my article on Canadian content regulations for commercial radio in the 1970s. I tried to think of favourite Canadian songs that I heard on the radio back in that decade, when I was […]

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Watchmen, Nostalgia, and Fascism; or, Rorschach Voted Trump (Part 2 of 2)

September 7, 2017

Written by guest blogger, Kathryn Imray.   READ PART ONE HERE The grown Rorschach’s enemies are ‘lechers,’ communists, liberals, the pampered and decadent, intellectuals, smooth-talkers, heroin users, child pornographers, homosexuals, politicians, ‘whores,’ women who have children by different fathers, and welfare cheats (1:1, 14 16, 19). Some rapists are not acceptable (4:23), others aren’t so […]

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