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From Cairo to Baghdad: British Travellers in Arabia

From Cairo to Baghdad: British Travellers in Arabia
James Canton

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  • Hardback | In Stock | $135.00

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Until the 1880s, British travellers to Arabia were for the most part wealthy dilettantes who could fund their travels from private means. With the advent of an Imperial presence in the region, as the British seized power in Egypt, the very nature of travel to the Middle East changed. Suddenly, ordinary men and women found themselves visiting the region as British influence increased. Missionaries, soldiers and spies as well as tourists and explorers started to visit the area, creating an ever bigger supply of writers, and market for their books. In a similar fashion, as the Empire receded in the wake of World War II, so did the whole tradition of Middle East travel writing. In this elegantly crafted book, James Canton examines over one hundred primary sources, from forgotten gems to the classics of T E Lawrence, Thesiger and Philby. He analyses the relationship between Empire and author, showing how the one influenced the other, leading to a vast array of texts that might never have been produced had it not been for the ambitions of Imperial Britain. This work makes for essential reading for all of those interested in the literature of Empire, travel writing and the Middle East.

Table of Contents

List of Maps and Illustrations
Chapter 1: Missionaries and Pilgrims
Chapter 2: The Empty Quarter
Chapter 3: Imperial Wars
Chapter 4: Modernising Arabia
Chapter 5: Women in Arabia
Chapter 6: Baghdad and Beyond
Chapter 7: Southern Arabia
Chapter 8: After Empire

Author Info

James Canton teaches at the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies at the University of Essex. He studied at Exeter and Essex universities, gaining a PhD in literature. He has taught widely in the UK and Egypt, and has himself travelled extensively across the Middle East.


In From Cairo to Baghdad, James Canton offers an important account of the British travels in Arabia since Britain's occupation of Egypt in 1882. Canton provides historical depth to British involvement in the Middle East with a nuanced discussion of how travel writing is implicated in colonial relations of power. The book will be a required reading for scholars of travel writing and postcolonial studies.
– Ali Behdad, John Charles Hillis Professor of Literature, UCLA, and author of Belated Travelers: Orientalism in the Age of Colonial Dissolution

From Cairo to Baghdad: British Travellers in Arabia is a major contribution to our understanding of British interest in, and understanding of, the Middle East between the occupation of Egypt in 1882 and the in vasion of Iraq in 2003. James Canton deftly probes into ways that travel writing produced during this period was unavoidably caught up and complicit in the twin developments of mass tourism and imperialism. Organised chronologically and thematically, this study reveals a much richer and more complex range of cul-tural interactions and mutual engagements than the still powerful notion of a clash between civilisations.
– Gerald MacLean, Professor of English, University of Exeter

‘…a lucid, well-argued and informative book which is a pleasure to read. If James Canton were to write a companion volume, examining Arabian reactions to these same British travelers and their tales, it too would be of great value.’
– Eamonn Gearon, TLS

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.

ISBN: 9781848856967
Publication Date: 29 Apr 2011
Number of Pages: 320
Height: 216
Width: 138
Illustrations: 2 maps, 5 integrated b/w

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