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Changing Languages of Empire and the Orient: Britain and the Invention of the Middle East, 1917-1918

James Renton
The Historical Journal
Vol. 50, No. 3 (Sep., 2007), pp. 645-667
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20175115
Page Count: 23
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Changing Languages of Empire and the Orient: Britain and the Invention of the Middle East, 1917-1918
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Abstract

During the last two years of the Great War the British government undertook a global propaganda campaign to generate support for the military advance into the Near East, British post-war domination of the region, and the war effort in general. The objective was to transform how the West and the peoples of the Ottoman empire perceived the Orient, its future, and the British empire. To fit with the international demand that the war should be fought for the cause of national self-determination, the Orient was re-defined as the Middle East: a region of oppressed nations that required liberation and tutelage by Britain and the entente. Great Britain was portrayed as the pre-eminent champion of the principle of nationality, which was behind its move into the Middle East. It is argued in this article that these narratives constituted a significant change in Western representations of the Orient and the British empire.

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