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The British and French in the Middle East, 1914-1948

Lecture powerpoint (23 Jan 2017)

This week we will look at the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement between Britain and France which proposed British and French spheres of influence and control in the Middle East. We will consider the agreement’s influence on the history of the Middle East between the two world wars (and beyond). We will then look in detail at the case of British Mandate Palestine, from the perspective of the British, Arabs and Jews.


Seminar questions

1. Who were the ‘winners’ and who were the ‘losers’ from the Sykes-Picot Agreement?
2. The Sykes-Picot Agreement or the Balfour Declaration - which was more important in shaping the Middle East?
3. Who were the colonisers and who the colonised in British Mandate Palestine?


Core reading

Sykes-Picot:
F. W. Brecher, ‘French Policy toward the Levant 1914-18’, Middle Eastern Studies, 29 (1993) 641-663.
Yitzhak Gil-Har, ‘Boundaries Delimitation: Palestine and Trans-Jordan’, Middle Eastern Studies, 36 (2000) 68-81.
John D. Grainger, The Battle for Syria, 1918-1920 (2013). Introduction (e-book)
Yassamine Mather, ‘The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and Current Conflict in the Middle East’, Critique, 42 (2014) 471-485.


Further readings

Middle East 1914-1948:

Nayef R.F. Al-Rodhan, Graeme P. Herd and Lisa Watanabe, Critical Turning Points in the Middle East 1915 - 2015 (2011) chapters 3 and 4 (e-book)
James Barr, A Line in the Sand: Britain, France and the Struggle for the Mastery of the Middle East (2012).
Uriel Dann (ed.) The Great powers in the Middle East, 1919-1939 (1988).
Michael Provence, ‘The Levant Mandates’, in Amal Ghazal and Jens Hanssen (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Middle-Eastern and North African History (2015) (e-book)


The British in Palestine:
A.J. Sherman, Mandate Days: British Lives in Palestine, 1918-1948 (1997)
Laura Robson, Colonialism and Christianity in Mandate Palestine (2011), chapters 1, 2 and 5
Naomi Shepherd, Ploughing the Sand: British Rule in Palestine, 1917-1948 (2000)
Michael J. Cohen, Palestine, Retreat from the Mandate: The Making of British Policy, 1936-45 (1978)


Arabs and Jews under the British Mandate:
Tom Segev (trans. Haim Watzman), One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate (2001)
Zachary Lockman, ‘Railway workers and relational history: Arabs and Jews in British-ruled Palestine’, Society for Comparative Study of Society and History, 35 (1993) 601 - 627
Rashid Khalidi, The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood (2007), chapters 1 and 2
Martin Gilbert, Israel: A History (2008), chapters 3-7


‘Orientalism’:
Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Pantheon, 1978), 31-45, 284-288.
David Cannadine, Ornamentalism: How the British Saw their Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 3-24, 71-82.
Arieh Bruce Saposnik, ‘Europe and its Orients in Zionist culture before the First World War’, The Historical Journal, 49 (2006) 1105-112
Joseph Massad, ‘Zionism’s internal others: Israel and the Oriental Jews’, Journal of Palestine Studies, 25 (1996) 53-68