by Mitch on November 28, 2011 0 Comments

Italian forces move into British Somaliland.

During the widespread European colonization in the latter part of the nineteenth century, Somalia became the target of both British and Italian ambitions. The British arrived much earlier, negotiating treaties for harbor facilities in 1840. By the middle 1880s, the British had negotiated agreements with a number of northern tribes and established a protectorate of sorts. The British wanted to control the local supply of foodstuffs to supply their major port of Aden, just to the north across the Gulf of Aden. They ultimately established the colony of Somaliland and finalized a border with Ethiopia in 1897.


Meanwhile, the Italians were slowly acquiring control over the southern part of the region, also by signing protection agreements. They took control of the lands of two rival sultans in 1889, at which time the Italians informed them that as of the Berlin Conference five years earlier ...

read more

Book Review: Fezzes in the River: Identity Politics and European Diplomacy in the Middle East on the Eve of World War II.

by Mitch on November 21, 2011 0 Comments

Sarah D. Shields. Fezzes in the River: Identity Politics and European Diplomacy in the Middle East on the Eve of World War II. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. xi + 306 pp. $39.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-19-539331-6.

Reviewed by David Getman (Rice University)
Published on H-Empire (November, 2011)
Commissioned by Charles V. Reed

A "Travesty of Self-Determination": The Inscription of Turkish Identity in the Sanjak of Alexandretta, 1936-39

Sarah Shields’s Fezzes in the River is the second book-length study in English of the 1936-39 contest between French-occupied Syria and Turkey over possession of the former Ottoman Sanjak (province) of Alexandretta, known since 1939 as the southern Turkish province of Hatay.[1] Broadly, Shields argues that the trend of European diplomacy toward appeasement in the 1930s rapidly eroded the willingness of France and the ability of the League of Nations to guarantee the right to self-determination in the Sanjak--extended to its ...

read more


by Mitch on August 25, 2011 0 Comments

King Habibullah Khan with the military men of Afghanistan in early 1900s.

Historically, Afghanistan’s army evolved from traditional beginnings, but it was not until the reigns of Amir Dost Muhammad and Shir Ali Khan in the early nineteenth century that a process of modernization began. However, the army lacked the modern weaponry of the neighboring states and did not have a modern officer corps, for officers were appointed on the basis of loyalty rather than ability. Western technology and ideas only came to Afghanistan through means of prisoners of war or foreign mercenaries. Army troops were paid partially in cash and partially in kind and almost always in arrears, and recruitment was often accomplished through the seizure of able-bodied men, regardless of age. A militia of riflemen and tribal irregular forces enhanced the regular army. The modernization process was continued by Amir Shir Ali, who obtained a number of ...

read more


by Mitch on August 18, 2011 0 Comments

3-view drawing of HMS Dreadnought in 1911, with QF 12 pdr guns added.


As revolutionary a development for transportation over water as the advent of the railroad for transportation over land. In combination with railroad transportation, in fact, shallow-draft steam-driven riverboats that could negotiate narrow waterways with or against the current were as vital in opening up the interior of the United States on rivers such the Mississippi and the Ohio as in penetrating the African continent by way of the Congo and Nile. The first successful steamship, the Charlotte Dundas, towed barges on the Forth and Clyde Canals starting in 1801. Without either the vast interior or an interconnecting river network of the United States, however, Britain took the lead in building ocean-going steamships. The first passenger steamer crossed the English Channel from Brighton to Le Havre in 1816, and, in 1825, the 120-horse power Enterprize made Calcutta in ...

read more


by Mitch on August 18, 2011 0 Comments

A cosmopolitan city of the Ottoman Empire, Salonica was peopled by Jews from the Iberian Peninsula; Orthodox Christians, mostly Greeks, some Bulgarians; Ma’mins, Jewish converts to Islam; Vlachs, Christians speaking a Romance language similar to Rumanian; gypsies; and Western Europeans, mostly Italians.


The assumptions of racial nationalism, which shaped European thinking in the nineteenth century, did not reflect how the inhabitants saw themselves. Religion dictated their identities and it was through the efforts of a minority of educated elite imbued with the European nationalist creeds that the people were converted and mobilized. The Macedonian struggle in the late nineteenth century, which dominated life in Salonica, began as a religious conflict among its Christians, but turned into a way for nationalists to introduce national identities: Greek, Bulgarian, and even “Macedonian.” This threatened the cosmopolitan identity of the city. Hellenic and Bulgarian nationalists fought over Salonica, but were also divided among ...

read more


by Mitch on June 25, 2011 0 Comments

Battle of Adwa, an oil painting probably done by a monk near Addis Ababa (ca. 1970), is of aesthetic and historic interest. The scene of the battle has been repeated almost ritualistically in this same style many times. Led by Emperor Menelik II, Ethiopian forces defeated the Italian army of General Oreste Baratieri at Adwa on March 1, 1896. Considered to be one of the most important events in Ethiopian history, this battle is seen by some as the first great step in the African journey toward freedom from colonial rule. Ethiopians celebrate "Adwa" day as a national holiday. (African and Middle Eastern Division)

The first phase of African resistance to colonial rule from about 1880 to 1910 was broadly characterized by several forms of militant anticolonialism in which military resistance was the norm. Most African states took up arms to safeguard their independence during this period. The idea that ...

read more


by Mitch on June 21, 2011 0 Comments

January 17, 1931

A Cams 53 hydroplane, F-AJNN, took off from Etang de Berre, opening the first airmail service between Marseille and Beirut, the first segment of the France-Far East route. From 17 to 27 January, Air Orient performed a pioneering passenger service: Marseille-Naples-Corfu-Athens-Castellorizo-Beirut by Cams 53; Beirut-Damascus by coach; Damascus-Baghdad-Bouchir-Djask-Karachi-Jodhpur-Allahabab-Calcutta-Akyab-Rangoon-Bangkok-Saigon, with Maurice Noguès and Léon Launay. The journey took 10 days with 3 different aircraft (Cams 53, Farman 300 and Fokker VII). On 16 February, Maurice Noguès and his co-pilot Léon Launay returned to Le Bourget

In the early modern age, the Spanish had advanced a nominal claim to Micronesian islands, and the Dutch retained a somewhat vague claim to the western half of New Guinea. The British extended their colonial imperium in Australia from Botany Bay and Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania) to the whole of the continent by the 1820s. In 1840, they narrowly beat the French ...

read more

Wars of Decolonization

by Mitch on June 6, 2011 0 Comments

The most important shift in global power after World War II was the fall of the Western empires; with the exception of that of the USA which still remains in its Pacific territories, with Hawaii, as a state, part of the metropolitan USA. This was a shift that involved a large amount of conflict, although much decolonization was accomplished without warfare. Decolonization, however, fuelled the Cold War, providing it with a series of battlefields and areas for competition, and provided the context, and often cause, for struggles within newly independent states.


Initially, there were major attempts to reintroduce Western imperial control in colonies where it had been disrupted during World War II. This was peaceful in some territories, such as the British colonies of Hong Kong, Malaya and Singapore, but led to conflict in the Dutch East Indies, French Indo-China, and the French colonies of Madagascar and Syria. Syria had ...

read more


by Mitch on May 20, 2011 0 Comments

Retired General Vo Nguyen Giap in 1991.

(b. 1911), general and commander of the People’s Army of Vietnam. Vo Nguyen Giap is best known as the general and commander of the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) during the Vietnamese resistance against France and the United States between 1946 and 1973. Giap is widely recognized as an expert in military science and particularly in logistics, tactics, and strategy. His personal style of conducting war, crafted from a wide array of sources and field experiences, enabled the Vietnamese armies under his command to oust both the French and U.S. military forces from his country.


Giap was born in Quan Binh Province in 1911 to a poor family that was fervently anti-French. After reading the writings of Ho Chi Minh (1890–1969), he joined the underground Communist Party in his teens and, because of his anti-French activities, was imprisoned by ...

read more


by Mitch on May 4, 2011 0 Comments

Huangpu River in Shanghai, Circa 1920. Shanghai was connected to a vast Chinese hinterland through a network of rivers and canals that reached well into remote Sichuan Province. The Huangpu River provided a ready avenue into both the Yangzi River and Shanghai’s surrounding area.


Shanghai was not born in 1842 with the Nanjing Treaty that opened five Chinese port cities to foreign trade, nor in 1845 when the British were granted the right to establish a settlement (technically, ‘‘leased territory’’) in the outskirts of the walled city. For decades before these events, Shanghai had served as a major hub for trade between inland provinces and other port cities in China.


Located in the estuary of the Yangzi River, the main artery into inland China, Shanghai was connected to a vast hinterland through a dense network of rivers and canals that reached well into remote Sichuan Province 2,500 kilometers ...

read more
Older Posts Page 2 of 3. Newer Posts

Post categories

No blog categories

Post archives

No blog archives