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Title: A labyrinth in the sand : British boundary-making and the emergence of the Emirati territorial state
Author: Haller, N.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7962 8940
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2019
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The boundaries between the seven constituents of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) form a territorial landscape of extraordinary complexity, marked by meandering lines, non-coherent territories, exclaves and zones of shared administration. In contrast to its distinctness on the map, this territorial jigsaw-puzzle is remarkably inconspicuous and almost invisible on the ground. This thesis explores how this seemingly contradictory situation developed. It does so through an analysis primarily of the British records kept in the British National Archives and the India Office Records, and by employing Nick Megoran's methodological suggestion of writing the biography of boundaries. As will be shown, the autochthonous system of territorial control in the area of the contemporary UAE - developing out of attempts by emerging coastal rulers to exercise authority over the hinterland of their towns - dovetailed in its flexibility with the political ideas and socio-economic conditions of the region's inhabitants. With the advent of Britain's imperial rule, a selected number of coastal rulers were decisively strengthened by gaining British recognition as heads of sovereign polities. In the wake of oil exploration, Britain subsequently assisted these Trucial Rulers in establishing their control over the hinterland of their capitals. The British drawing of the inter-emirate boundaries (taking into account the claims of the Trucial Rulers but ignoring those of all other polities) was a key aspect of this process, allowing the establishment of territorial sovereignty by the seven Trucial States in the 1950s and 1960s and leading to the increasing materialisation of inter-emirate borders. This trajectory changed markedly in the wake of Britain's withdrawal in 1971. Within the United Arab Emirates, a federation of the former Trucial States, the inter-emirate borders successively dematerialised, hand in hand with an increasing assertion of federal authority. This analysis of the development of the inter-emirate boundaries offers a new lens to understand broader aspects and currents of Emirati history, in which this development is deeply embedded. It also offers a contribution to a more comprehensive understanding of an important aspect of Britain's imperial role and legacy in the Gulf.
Supervisor: Valeri, M. ; Onley, J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Gulf Studies ; Border Studies ; United Arab Emirates ; British Imperialism