Member book, Crouzet Guillemette, Inventing the Middle East: Britain and the Persian Gulf in the Age of Global Imperialism

Guillemette Crouzet's picture

With apologies for cross posting, please find below the announcement of the publication of my book which could be of interest to members of the H-Asia network as it envisages the history of the Middle East in the 19th century from the perspective of British India.

Guillemette Crouzet, Inventing the Middle East: Britain and the Persian Gulf in the Age of Global Imperialism (Montreal/London: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2022, 304 Pages, ISBN 9780228014065).


The “Middle East” has long been an indispensable and ubiquitous term in discussing world affairs, yet its history remains curiously underexplored. Few question the origin of the term or the boundaries of the region, commonly understood to have emerged in the twentieth century after World War I.

My book offers a new account in Inventing the Middle East. It traces the idea of the Middle East to a century-long British imperial zenith in the Indian subcontinent and its violent overspill into the Persian Gulf and its hinterlands. Encroachment into the Gulf region began under the expansionist East India Company. It was catalyzed by Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt and heightened by gunboat attacks conducted in the name of pacifying Arab “pirates.” Throughout the 1800s the British secured this crucial geopolitical arena, transforming it into both a crossroads of land and sea and a borderland guarding British India’s western flank. Establishing this informal imperial system involved a triangle of actors in London, the subcontinent, and the Gulf region itself. By the nineteenth century’s end, amid renewed waves of inter-imperial competition, this nexus of British interests and narratives in the Gulf region would occasion the appearance of a new name: the Middle East.

Charting the spatial, political, and cultural emergence of the Middle East, Inventing the Middle East reveals the deep roots of the twentieth century’s geographic upheavals.

Table of contents

Figures and Maps vii
Preface xi
Acknowledgments xv
Introduction 3
1 Edge of Empire: Britain, the East India Company, and Early Interventions in the Gulf 27
2 “Pax Britannica” in the Gulf? Strategies for Indirect Rule, 1810-1853 66
3 Maps and Surveys: The Geographical Invention of the British Gulf 93
4 The Globalization of the Gulf Economy 113
5 Passages to India: Mesopotamia and the Gulf in British Imperial Imaginaries 145
6 The Gulf in the Age of New Imperialism 169
Conclusion 199
Notes 207
Index 275

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