Consumption, Rationing, Boycotting, and National Identity: Britain at War, 1939–45

AHA Session 205
Coordinating Council for Women in History 6
North American Conference on British Studies 1
Saturday, January 7, 2017: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Room 402 (Colorado Convention Center, Meeting Room Level)
Eileen Boris, University of California, Santa Barbara
Eileen Boris, University of California, Santa Barbara

Session Abstract

Preparing the home and military front for war took on several dimensions, some of which included the boycotting of certain products from nations believed to be ‘hostile’ or inhumane in the conduct of war; rationing products once considered a normal part of everyday life, such as rubber; and selling what the government regarded to be largely useless scrap metal as a means of raising capital at a time when the economy was still in flux from the Great Depression.  These papers synthesise the responses from voluntary and/or non-governmental organisations with those of the elected leadership to show how, in response to earlier misjudgements, actions were taken to maintain and strengthen home front morale in response to the challenges of war.  They show that these responses helped to broaden citizens’ outlook concerning how Britons could play a significant role in the war effort.  Drawing on a range of hitherto unexplored archival materials from the archives of the National Health Service, the China Campaign Committee files at the Modern Records Centre, Warwick University and the Public Record Office UK (National Archives), these papers will examine the responses of the British government to the challenges of war.   They will trace how these decisions served, in the first instance, to undermine citizens’ confidence in the prosecution of the war effort, and subsequently forced policy changes by the government in the interest of maintaining home front morale and solidarity.
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