Theses Doctoral

Empire by Law: Ottoman Sovereignty and the British Occupation of Egypt, 1882-1923

Genell, Aimee M.

This dissertation is an analysis of the Ottoman-European legal contest over Egypt. I explore the relationship between international law, imperial expansion and state formation in the late Ottoman Empire against the joint reconfiguration of ideas of sovereignty and imperial control during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The British occupation of Egypt (1882-1914) was a novel experiment in quasi-colonial administration, where legal justifications for the occupation demanded the retention of Ottoman institutions and shaped administrative practices. My research examines the significance and consequences of maintaining Ottoman sovereignty in Egypt during the British occupation in an effort to explain the formation of a distinctive model of sovereignty, both for late empires and for successor states in the post-Ottoman Middle East. I argue that a new model of client-state sovereignty produced during the course of the occupation, emerged out of the intense imperial rivalry between the Ottoman and Europe Empires in Egypt, and had lasting significance more generally for how we define states and sovereignty today. These findings recast the Ottoman Empire as a major, albeit weak, actor in European diplomacy. Though Ottoman and European history have developed as separate fields of academic inquiry, my research shows that nineteenth and early twentieth century European and Ottoman political practices and ideas were inextricably intertwined. The Ottoman Empire contributed to and was perhaps the key testing ground for enduring political and administrative experiments in the post-imperial international order.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Mazower, Mark A.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 31, 2013