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Britain, the Mandates and the Modern Middle East (HI3H2)


The political map of the Middle East was transformed in the twentieth-century. Between the two world wars, the provinces and districts of the former Ottoman Empire were divided into discrete ‘mandatory’ territories, forming the basis of the nation-states we know today.

This module focuses on Britain’s central role in this process. It examines the long record of British intervention in the region, from the late nineteenth-century, through two world wars, to the Suez Crisis and the end of imperial influence. In particular, it explores the critical period of British rule as the ‘mandatory power’ for Palestine, Trans-Jordan and Iraq in the years 1918-1948.

This Advanced Option aims to enable students to understand a period of remarkable change, and to provide a set of case studies with which to explore the phenomenon of European imperialism in greater detail. It aims to introduce a wide range of topics in the history of Britain’s Middle Eastern territories, as well as drawing attention to phenomena and processes that were common to them all. It will examine a variety of source materials, including memoirs, photographs and official colonial reports, building a platform for future independent research. It will also provide an opportunity to engage with some of the methodologies and historiographical debates in the field of imperial history, including subaltern studies, orientalism, and concepts of ‘informal empire’, and will encourage students to compare and connect histories within the framework of the mandates.

Outline Syllabus

Illustrative Bibliography