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Spies in ArabiaThe Great War and the Cultural Foundations of Britain's Covert Empire in the Middle East$
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Priya Satia

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195331417

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331417.001.0001

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Official Conspiracy Theories and the Wagers of Genius

Official Conspiracy Theories and the Wagers of Genius

(p.201) 6 Official Conspiracy Theories and the Wagers of Genius
Spies in Arabia

Priya Satia (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter describes the emergence of a conspiracy-thinking culture in the postwar British imperial state. As intelligence agents from the Middle East slipped into administrative roles in the postwar Middle Eastern empire, they applied their intuitive mode and conception of Middle Eastern space to the official task of understanding the postwar series of periods of anticolonial unrest. The theories were notable for their vagueness and ineffability. The conspiracy mode was intensified by the competing claims to expertise of the old guard of amateur agents and an emerging group of professionals. The British state became captive to a paranoid mode of understanding political events in the Middle East. The chapter closes with a discussion of the ramifications of this mode, namely the excuse it provided for continued British presence in the region.

Keywords:   conspiracy theory, conspiracy thinking, state, mandate system, Iraqi rising, bolshevism, Mecca, bureaucracy, expert, space

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