The Introduction problematizes established understandings of universities in the British empire and introduces the main arguments of the book. Pointing to the national focus of existing scholarship and to its disconnected nature, it argues for the need to pay attention to the long-distance ties that linked universities and academics in Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. Doing so, it suggests, forces historians to rethink the relationship between sociability, space and knowledge practice in the period before the Second World War, revealing an expansive British academic world that was characterised by irregular geographies of access and exchange.
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