Egypt

British colony, imperial capital

Author: James Whidden

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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