The path dependence of imperialism? Assessing the development impact of British informal empire on Egypt and Iraq
: a comparative study

  • Blake Purchase

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (MPhil)


This project deploys path dependence theory to assess the extent to which duration of British ‘tutelage’ is sufficient in explaining the intensity of development impact on two states which formerly constituted large parts of Britain’s 20th century ‘informal empire’ in the Middle East: Egypt and Iraq. This project argues that the duration of ‘tutelage’ is insufficient in explaining depth of development impact and contends that what is theorised as the ‘depth’ of critical junctures represents the better indicator.

The project nonetheless accepts the limitations of the theory and the risk of overemphasising the legacy of Empire in shaping the future of the Middle East, particularly in relation to Iraq and its borders. It does however present the case, in quasi-Foucauldian terms, that the realities matter less than the perception of Britain’s role in state-building, in understanding the political instability which has plagued the region.
Date of Award29 Nov 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorRaymond Hinnebusch (Supervisor) & Fiona McCallum Guiney (Supervisor)


  • Imperialism
  • International relations of the Middle East
  • History of the Middle East

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 18 August 2027

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