Until the early years of the 20th century, the British government enforced and/or encouraged white colonial settlement, the assumption being that large numbers of settlers were needed to maximise economic benefit for the Mother Country. This approach changed after the First World War, when it grew increasingly clear that multinational corporations, backed by overseas capital and using cheap local labour, were far more efficient at building export-oriented colonial economies.
For a deeper exploration of this idea, see The Colonial Moment in Africa – Essays on the Movement of Minds and Materials, 1900-1940, by Andrew Roberts (1990)
Nearly 200 years after her ancestors were given a large payout from the British government when slavery was abolished, our correspondent travels to Grenada to find out how this grim legacy continues to reverberate today.
High up in the hills of the Caribbean island of Grenada, in the grounds of a former slave plantation, a cast iron bell hangs from a tree.
As the fallout from a policeman’s killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Black Lives Matter protests reverberates around the world, the Commonwealth may be about to have its own moment of reckoning with its origins in the British empire.