Selling Britishness: The Projection Of Britain After World War Two. Conference Paper, 2006
This paper examined the official definition of 'Britishness' as used by the Board of Trade in overseas promotions during the 1950s and 1960s. It developed research previously published relating to government involvement in design promotion as a vehicle not only (or, to some protagonists, not even) in order to boost trade but also to attribute alleged national characteristics through a quasi-historical display and to support what were taken to be British overseas interests.
Utilising the detailed records not only of departments of state such as the Board of Trade and the Foreign and Commonwealth Offfice but also of other interested parties such as the Council of Industrial Design and the Confederation of British Industries the paper explored the forms of representation used to define 'Britishness' and the attributes intended to be read from then. It also looked at the apparent conflict between economic policies committed to modernising industrial and commercial practices, particularly after Labour’s 1964 electoral success, and the 'traditional' symbols characteristically utilised at official displays irrespective of the products being promoted– the mini in the Tudor pavilion. In analysing the cconflicts between image and products the research also looked at the values being (however effectively or otherwise) attributed to the traditional symbolism, allegedly durability, quality, craftsmanship and placed such in the context of the ‘real’ international markets within which British producers sought to operate. In doing so, therefore, it also analysed the success or failure of such promotions, particularly British weeks, and the debates which increasingly emerged in the later 1960s about their efficacy and/or desirability.