British Imperialism in the Middle East, 1882-1956 (HIC2300)

30 credits

Ever since the terrorist events of 9/11, the Middle East – and Britain’s relationship with it – has rarely been out of the headlines. But what are the historical origins of Britain’s involvement in the region? This course allows students to go beyond the polemics in order to understand the origins of Britain’s interaction with the populations of the Middle East. Starting with the British imperial strategy to sustain the Ottoman Empire as a coherent whole in the late 1880s, students will chart the changes and consistencies in British foreign policy towards the region in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. Particular focus will be placed on the experience and legacy of the Balkan Wars and the First World War. In Term 2, students will explore the ways in which the region became an important element in the strategic picture of Western power relations and rivalries – and Arab nationalist responses to these – with particular focus on the interwar, Second World War and early Cold War periods. Students will consider the motivation and consequences of such action from the perspective of both the Western powers as well as the established states in the Middle East before debating Britain’s ostensible exit from the Middle East in 1956 in the aftermath of the Suez debacle. Overall, this module will enable students to understand how, in these turbulent seventy years, the seeds of many of the issues facing today’s Middle East were sown.