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Title: War in the 'cradle of civilization' : British perceptions of Mesopotamia, 1907-1921
Author: Atia, Nadia H.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2697 0734
Awarding Body: Queen Mary, University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2010
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Drawing on a wide variety of historical and literary sources, this thesis argues that the First World War transformed British perceptions of Mesopotamia, distancing it from long-established associations with myth, antiquity and fable and relating it instead to Britain's wartime experiences and potential post-war choices. The first chapter examines pre-war perceptions of Mesopotamia. Through an analysis of British travel writing and journalism from the years 1907-1914, it locates early twentieth-century British perceptions of Mesopotamia within the well-established tradition of travel to, and writing about, Arabia. Focusing on accounts of the siege of Kut (December 1915 - April 1916) - one of the defining episodes of the Mesopotamian campaign - the second chapter explores the impact of the first two years of the war on British perceptions of Mesopotamia. In particular, this chapter asks what role discourses of race and civilization played in shaping British reactions to the 'cradle of civilization' and to the Indian servicemen serving alongside them. Through a close examination of the archives of the Mesopotamia Commission, Chapter Three investigates the significance of 'British prestige in the East' in the conduct of the Mesopotamian campaign, particularly in relation to events leading to the siege of Kut. In order to push north to Baghdad and beyond in the final two years of the war, British commanders built an infrastructure that transformed Mesopotamia. Chapter Four looks at the impact of the modern in a region defined for many Britons by its associations with ancient or biblical sites and civilizations. The final chapter examines the years between the Armistice of Mudros and the coronation of Faisal. Looking closely at media and fictional accounts of the revolt of 1920, it traces the impact of both pre-war and wartime conceptions of Mesopotamia upon representations of the region in these pivotal years.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Literature