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Date of Award

Spring 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of History


Basra, on the eve of WWI, was an Ottoman wilaya with a diverse society. During this period, Basra became a platform for two major British military campaigns. In 1914, Britain occupied the city as a precautionary measure to protect British interests in the region after the declaration of war against the Ottoman Empire. After eleven years of a British mandate, Basra became part of an independent country in 1932. In 1941, upon the success of a German-supported coup in Baghdad against the British-aided monarchy, Britain moved its forces to occupy Basra for a second time. During this period of imperial and national transformation, the American presence in Basra grew, especially in commerce, education and politics. In education, the American manifestation was dominated by the Arabian Mission: an American Protestant organization, structured by the Reformed Church of America. This mission, and the schools it founded, the School of High Hope for boys and the School of Women’s Hope for girls, was the site of the American influence in and around Basra. This thesis examines the missionary schools of the Arabian Mission, the missionaries who played a major role in the religious and cultural life of Basra, and the distinctive nature of the American influence under the umbrella of a British imperial project. The thesis is divided into an introduction and three chapters. The first chapter introduces the city, the Arab-American relations, and the founding of the Arabian Mission. The second chapter examines the mission and its schools during the British occupation of 1914 and under the British Mandate. The third chapter treats the transitions of the schools from schools for the elite to social centers for the needy and the underprivileged.

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