Military Networks and State Building in the Middle East

Gilad Wenig, University of California, Los Angeles

Colonialism profoundly impacted state development in the Middle East. Yet research on this subject has primarily examined political and economic institutions and neglected coercive ones. For its part, scholarship on Middle Eastern militaries, though burgeoning as of late, tends to presuppose military strength without exploring its historical origins. I attempt a preliminary corrective in this paper. Using newly collected data, I reconstruct and analyze the networks of British military officers who were charged with establishing and training native officer corps in the Middle East in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In particular, I focus my attention on military missions and academies, which were established and run by British officers. Conceptualized as critical sites of diffusion, I trace the flows of these officers during a formative period of colonial state building.

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 Presented in Session 119. Contingency, Networks, and Power in Long-wave Historical Development