Cultural Propaganda and Plans for a British University in the Near East


This essay draws on archival documents to explore the British Empire’s plans for establishing a university in the eastern Mediterranean in the 1930s. The British possessions in the region were at stake in the aftermath of the First World War. Since the early 1930s the Foreign Office had been eagerly planning the establishment of a university in the region in order to make the local elites familiar with Western culture. Egypt, Palestine, and Cyprus were considered the most likely locations for the institution. It is argued that cultural propaganda was perceived by the Foreign Office as an essential component of the empire’s strategy and legitimacy in its sphere of influence. Although the project was eventually not realized due to the outbreak of the Second World War, its significance lies in the demonstration of the British grand strategy in the eastern Mediterranean during the interwar period.