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Cultural propaganda: the British Council's activities in neutral Europe 1939-1945

Corse, Edward (2011) Cultural propaganda: the British Council's activities in neutral Europe 1939-1945. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94285) (KAR id:94285)


This thesis outlines, describes and analyses the activities of the British Council - the British Government's organisation for promoting 'British life and thought' abroad - in neutral Europe during the Second World War and is divided thematically into five chapters. The first chapter takes a conceptual view of the British Council's work and compares the aims and objectives of the British Council with a number of theories and definitions of propaganda, particularly the term 'cultural propaganda' that was often applied to its work by contemporary observers and staff of the Council. It also considers the roots and antecedents of the British Council, as well as the history of the British Council itself from its establishment in 1934, until the outbreak of war in 1939. The second chapter looks in detail about how the Council operated within the context of the British propaganda machinery, how it was viewed by other Government Departments and how it interacted with non-Governmental organisations and individuals within Britain. In particular, this chapter examines the interactions between the Council's offices abroad in Spain, Portugal, Sweden and Turkey with the British Embassies in those respective countries. Chapter three considers the propaganda work of the British Council itself, with a detailed examination of its activities abroad, how it operated and what techniques it used on the ground to promote British life and thought. Chapter four then looks at how the British Council was viewed by foreign Governments in the countries where it operated as well as the views of the non-official elites. The final chapter draws all of the main points from the previous chapters together in an attempt to construct a model of cultural propaganda which could be applied to different, but similar, organisations in a variety of time periods.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94285
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DL Northern Europe. Scandinavia
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2023 16:22 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2023 16:22 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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