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Title: Belgrave's quest for moral order in Bahrain, 1926-1957
Author: Fakhro, Elham
ISNI:       0000 0004 7232 9382
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis examines how colonial decision-makers in Bahrain restricted, regulated and controlled the consumption of alcohol and practice of prostitution as immoral activities. It analyzes these activities as visible sites for understanding how colonial decision-makers relied on the Law to enforce a distinct moral authority in Bahrain, and reflects on the political imperatives behind these regulatory projects. It shows how colonial actors justified moral regulations as necessary to protect local custom, and saw their ability to be seen as protecting customary values as intimately tied to their political legitimacy in Bahrain. The thesis further identifies the impact of moral regulation in constituting and reinforcing a hierarchal social order, which posited Western nationals as the ultimate benefactors of social privilege. The thesis places the project of moral regulation in its historic context, and identifies it as a response to social and demographic changes taking place in Bahrain following two transformative events: the discovery of oil in 1932, and the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. It describes the impact of these events in driving an influx of British and American oil workers and military servicemen to Bahrain, many of whom engaged in visible displays of drunkenness and debauchery. It shows how colonial officials responsible for exercising authority over Bahrain viewed these trends with alarm, as likely to spur a broader process of social decline, and ultimately bring about challenges to Britain's political legitimacy in Bahrain. The thesis analyzes the regulatory responses enacted by colonial decision-makers to limit the spread of these corrupting recreational habits, in the context of a transforming urban environment. In liquor-control, it shows how colonial actors created and enforced a liquor-licensing system, which prohibited Bahraini nationals, Muslims, and most non-Muslim Arabs from purchasing and consuming liquor, while ensuring this privilege remained available to a minority group of mostly British and American nationals. It locates a second site of moral regulation laws governing prostitution. In this area, the thesis describes how colonial officials regulated and restricted prostitution as an undesirable activity, including by confining the practice to a geographic zone, subjecting prostitute women to mandatory health screenings, and justifying these actions as necessary to curb an epidemic of venereal diseases.
Supervisor: Galligan, Denis Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available