Theses Doctoral

The Two Rivers: Water, Development and Politics in the Tigris-Euphrates Basin, 1920-1975

Stahl, Dale

At the end of the First World War, new states were created in the former domains of the Ottoman Empire. In the region between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, Britain and France obtained through conquest and international writ new "mandate" territories in Iraq and Syria, while in 1923 a new Turkish republic was founded on the Anatolian peninsula. During the next two decades, governments in these states planned a series of water control projects on the two rivers as part of broad economic development efforts. Many of these projects were eventually constructed after the Second World War, shaping the environment of the river basin with dams, flood control and irrigation works, and hydroelectric power stations. By comparing these states' efforts to exploit natural resources and manage the environment of the basin, this study considers the environmental function in the shift from empire to independent nation-state and in the diverse processes of modern state formation. Through water resource exploitation, Iraq, Syria and Turkey founded modern bureaucracies, centralized control over natural resources, and justified new techniques to manage populations. However, the intentions of Baghdad, Ankara and Damascus, as well as the results obtained, differed in significant ways, providing insight not only into the nature of these states, but also the political dimensions of managing a critical natural resource. This dissertation is based on analysis of archival records in Arabic, English, French and Turkish, collected from institutions in England, France, the United States, India and Turkey.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Khalidi, Rashid
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 7, 2014