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Title: Social perception and state-formation : the British in Iraq, 1914-1932
Author: Dodge, Benjamin Tobias.
ISNI:       0000 0001 2430 0954
Awarding Body: School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London)
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2002
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This thesis takes the powerful explanatory tools of discourse analysis and applies them to the history of Britain's attempts at state-formation in Iraq. In order to do this, theories of discourse within social science are critically reviewed, assessing their power to explain the agency of those who oversaw the building of the state. The thesis then examines British policy towards Iraq under the League of Nations Mandate. Faced with imperial over-reach British foreign policy had little choice but to agree to United States' plans to re-order international relations by using the selfdetermining state as a universal unit. Under League of Nations supervision, colonial civil servants were involved in a serious attempt to build a self-sustaining modern state in Iraq. British conceptions of Iraqi society were crucial to how that state was built and how it interacted with society. The central focus of the thesis is an investigation into how British civil servants understood Iraq. At the heart of this understanding was an ideational dichotomy focused on the causal weight to be given to individual agency or to societal organisation; could and should the state form direct links with individuals or should it rule through tribal organisations and their shaikhs? The thesis maps the parameters of British conceptions; the rural-urban divide and how tribal structures and the role of the shaikh were understood. It then examines how dominant social conceptions shaped the nature of state institutions. Tribal life, for the British, was organised around the benign but powerful presence of the shaikh. democratically responsible to his tribespeople, bound to them by custom and interest. It is this vision of the Iraqi countryside that came to dominate British policy. The thesis concludes by suggesting that the social ontology that drove policy in Iraq sprang from a much wider divide in the discourses of modernity themselves.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History