Britain’s Levantine Empire, 1914-1923

Location:  Turkey, Greece, Balkans

Type: Post-Doctoral Fellow (2015-16) / Project Research Fellow (2016-2017)

Year(s): 2015 - 2017 

Research Fellow Daniel-Joseph MacArthur-Seal 

Funding:  BIAA

Under BIAA SRI(s):  Anglo-Turkish relations in the twentieth century


The research project explores how the wartime itineraries of hundreds of thousands of British military personnel produced new forms of colonial rule spanning the eastern Mediterranean and an imagined geography of the Levant as a fragmented but distinct space between Europe and the Orient. The research is based on the recorded testimony over one hundred British servicemen, whose diaries, letters, and memoirs allow for the reading of their shared experience and thoughts about the cities in which they were stationed. These documents are read alongside state archival material from the UK, France, Turkey, Cyprus and Greece in order to assess the impact of occupation on the main port cities of the eastern Mediterranean. Histories examining soldiers’ experiences in the First World War have almost exclusively focused on the trenches of the western front and other battlefields, neglecting their participation in complex military geographies like these away from the front lines. British and Allied occupation not only implied a new security apparatus governing the city but introduced new tensions around the circulation of traffic and town planning, provision of entertainment and nightlife and a range of other mundane urban governance issues.

Resulting Publications: 

‘Intoxication and Imperialism: Nightlife in Occupied Istanbul, 1918-1923’, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, 37:2 (2017).

Britain’s Levantine Empire, 1914-1923 (Manuscript in preparation).

Daniel-Joseph MacArthur-Seal received his Ph.D from the University of Cambridge in 2014. His thesis, titled ‘Britain’s Levantine empire, 1914-1923', compared the principle cities of the eastern Mediterranean’s experience of Allied occupation during and after the First World War. His research interests include smuggling, prostitution, urban planning and governance, nightlife, cosmopolitanism, migration, imperialism and internationalism in the early twentieth century Ottoman and post-Ottoman Mediterranean. His current research project on 'Smuggling and the remaking of the eastern Mediterranean, 1912-1940’ examines the impact of the rise of national and international restrictions on the trade and consumption of narcotics on the social history of Istanbul and other port cities.

Belongs to;
History, Politics and Social Sciences
Late Ottoman & Early Republican History

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