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British colony, imperial capital
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The military occupation of Egypt exposed the British government to charges of self-interest and the betrayal of Britain's liberal political principles. This book is a comprehensive portrait of the British colony in Egypt, which also takes a fresh look at the examples of colonial cultures memorably enshrined in Edward W. Said's classic Orientalism. It presents a study that takes Edward Said's theory of colonial culture as a first reference and follows his method of analysing various British cultural products that involved some sort of cultural exchange. British residence in Egypt was facilitated by commercial treaties, known as the 'Capitulations'. The idea of Britain's 'civilising mission' had become justification for the repression of Egypt's liberty. Arguing that Said's analysis offered only the dominant discourse in imperial and colonial narratives, the book uses private papers, letters, memoirs, as well as the official texts, histories and government reports, to reveal both dominant and muted discourses. While imperial sentiment set the standards and sealed the ruling caste culture image, the investigation of colonial sentiment reveals a diverse colony in temperament and lifestyles, often intimately rooted in the Egyptian setting. British high commissioner Sir Miles Lampson's interventions in Egyptian domestic politics marked a momentous turning point in imperial history by spurring extremist nationalism. The interwar time of uncertainty witnessed a see-sawing of the imperialistic and the liberal or internationalist impulses.

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James Whidden

This introduction presents an overview of key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book provides Edward Said's theory of colonial culture as a first reference and follows his method of analysing various cultural products, mostly produced by the British that involved some sort of cultural exchange. It focuses on the British invasion, imperial projects, and colonial life entertains multiple perspectives: those of travellers, artists, business people, engineers, nurses, teachers, children, chaplains, soldiers, and more. The book explores the colonial history of Egypt to the early nineteenth century and demonstrates that British of diverse types were animated by an imperial doctrine that represented the British as carriers and disseminators of British liberty. It traces the subject of racism, which was barely disguised in some of the practices, if not policies, of high commissioners and diplomats in the interwar period and afterwards.

in Egypt
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James Whidden

British residence in Egypt was facilitated by commercial treaties, the 'Capitulations'. The British first entered into such agreements with the Ottoman Empire in 1580, when 200 Capitulations were granted to the English Crown to enable trade. The relationships between Ottomans and British were defined more by ambiguity than cross-cultural harmony, but far from the animosity between foreigners and locals that, apparently, characterised relations of the post-1800 period. The Capitulations enabled this organisation of the foreign communities and their control over the economy and the Egyptian government, which created the 'bridgehead' for colonisation. In the nineteenth century, the Barker family's formal relationship with the Egyptian ruler fitted a patron-and-client type. The 1936 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty certainly reduced the scope of British business. The result was to give an economic impetus towards nationalisation of industry, invigorating economic nationalism. The Second World War also exhausted the British community in multiple ways.

in Egypt
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James Whidden

The Egyptian expedition of 1882 was the last time that the British army marched to battle in redcoats. In the winter of 1882, the British confronted the undying dilemma of Western governments interested in the region: whether to collaborate with despotic rule or its liberal opponents. Wilfrid Scawen Blunt described the events of the 'bloody year' as 'a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel'. The comedy was that the idea of Britain's 'civilising mission' had become justification for the repression of Egypt's liberty. The tragedy was that in 1882 Britain made a 'mockery of self-government' by using military force to restore an Egyptian regime that had been the object of liberal critiques over the previous half-century. The events of that year saw liberal give way to conservative imperialism, with its security imperatives based on the Suez Canal and the balance of power in Europe.

in Egypt
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James Whidden

Military culture certainly had an impact on cross-cultural relations and shaped the general impression of the British colony. A central project of the colonial administration was financial, reordering Egypt's finances from bankruptcy to solvency. That project was built upon the export of cotton. Being theoretical, the conservative vision of colonial social relations bore little resemblance to reality. Egyptians elites recognised the 'arrogance' of administrators, particularly Lord Cromer and Herbert Kitchener, as well as the range of opinion and disagreements within colonial circles. Douglas M.Thornton imagined the Church as a vehicle for greater social engagement and cultural interaction with Egyptians, principally through schools and hospitals, with the ultimate goals of conversion and the extension of the Anglican congregation among Egyptians. The purpose of the bishopric in Egypt was to confer 'dignity' on the British colony and reflect the increasing number of British personnel in government, commerce, and engineering projects.

in Egypt
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James Whidden

Before the First World War, according to John Young, Cairo was an 'Oriental capital of Turkish Pashas, Harims, Black Eunuchs, and domestic slavery'. The portrait of colonial society offered in Young's memoirs also reflected pomp. In the same pre-war era, Humphrey Bowman's diaries and letters give the impression that empire allowed young middle-class men to aspire to be gentlemen. Leisure activity was essential to establishing necessary contacts in society. On the one hand, colonial Egypt was a locale to establish an imperial career where social manners were carefully policed; on the other, colonials were notorious for defying conventions. Wealthy or high-status British normally had a large household of servants. Domestics were employed by many British residents, certainly all those seeking status. Indeed, colonial life carried on quite impervious to the war or Egypt's enduring political battles with the British.

in Egypt
James Whidden

The Egyptian revolt against the British Protectorate erupted in the spring of 1919. Vivien Jennings-Bramly used the expression 'Egypt of the English' during the war to distinguish the 'English' from the colonial. For liberal-minded colonials, the war ruined any chance of rebuilding international relations as represented by the 1936 treaty. This fact is probably best represented by the collapse of the Anglo-Egyptian Union. Colonial society unravelled during and after the Second World War when Egyptian and Levantine elites began to withdraw from the English schools and other integrative social relations with the British colony. Edward Said recalled that his family abandoned the Gezira Sporting Club for the Tawfiqiyya Club in 1949. When the last troops evacuated Egypt on 24 March 1956, some residents remained, most would be expelled and their properties confiscated after the invasion in October. The disaster at Suez terminated many of the institutions founded by the British.

in Egypt
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James Whidden

The liberal era was the colony's golden years. It included a period of imperial policy adjustment after the First World War when there was a genuine social and cultural shift, marked by less confidence in the imperial mission and an easing of colonial rituals of cultural differentiation. The attempts to construct a distinctive 'British' colonial identity met with little success. The British colony comprised diverse types; these colonials pursued ordinary careers in government and business, military and labour. A toxic combination of racism and security priorities meant that the British government failed to commit itself to the new policy of cultural diplomacy, social integration, and bilateral relations. The interwar time of uncertainty witnessed a see-sawing of the imperialistic and the liberal or internationalist impulses. Egyptian national culture in this period was one where inclusion and tolerance of others remained the dominant voice.

in Egypt