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Lord Curzon and E. G. Browne Confront the 'Persian Question'

Christopher N. B. Ross
The Historical Journal
Vol. 52, No. 2 (Jun., 2009), pp. 385-411
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40264176
Page Count: 27
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Lord Curzon and E. G. Browne Confront the 'Persian Question'
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Abstract

As British efforts to secure the approaches to India intensified in the closing years of the nineteenth century, expert knowledge of the states bordering the subcontinent became an increasingly soughtafter commodity. Particularly high demand existed for individuals possessingfirst-hand experience of Qajar Persia, a state viewed by many policymakers as a vulnerable anteroom on the glacis of the Raj. Britain's two foremost Persian experts during this period were George Nathaniel Curzon and Edward Granville Browne. While Curzon epitomized the traditional gentleman amateur, Browne embodied the emerging professional scholar. Drawing on both their private papers and publications, this article analyses the relationship between these two men as well as surveys their respective views of British policy toward Iran from the late 1880s until the end of the First World War. Ultimately it contends that Curzon's knowledge of Persia proved deficient in significant ways and that Anglo-Iranian relations, at least in the aftermath of the Great War, might well have been placed on a better footing had Browne's more nuanced understanding of the country and its inhabitants prevailed within the foreign policymaking establishment.

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