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Title: Steam, cannon and wires : the Royal Navy and British imperialism in northeastern Africa, 1799-1899
Author: Fargher, James Andrew
ISNI:       0000 0004 7660 3959
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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The following dissertation examines to what extent naval strategy motivated the expansion of the British Empire into the territories surrounding the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden during the nineteenth century. The Red Sea waterway was of immense strategic importance to Britain as it opened a new route to the Indian Ocean, bypassing the traditional way station and naval base at the Cape of Good Hope - even more so after the proliferation of the steamship and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. In spite of this, no previous work has analysed the underlying causes of British imperialism the region surrounding the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Within the past few years, a handful of scholars have recognised the significant gap in the historical literature pertaining to the Red Sea, and several recent works have examined aspects of the sea's history. In seeking to understand the dynamics of British imperialism in the Red Sea region, this thesis has analysed the expansion of empire from an oceanic and naval perspective. A close examination of British government records makes clear that a perceived need to uphold the Royal Navy's dominance in the Red Sea as part of a wider imperial defence strategy resulted in first the annexation of islands and ports, and then the extension of British rule over the continental interior. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, British policymakers became increasingly concerned with protecting the sea lines of communication linking the Empire. The Red Sea was not only one of the most important shipping links between Britain and the eastern Empire, but also the spine of the primary imperial communications network from England to India. Hence, as this thesis shows, the collapse of powerful native states in northeastern Africa in the 1880s forced the British to pre-emptively seize ports and territory in the name of imperial defence. Preventing colonial rivals from threatening the Royal Navy's control over the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden therefore became one of the prime motivators behind the projection of British imperial power into northeastern Africa.
Supervisor: Lambert, Andrew David ; Berdal, Mats Ragnar Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available