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The conflicts of duty: The opinions and actions of the British Society of Friends in the Middle East, 1936-1958

Constantinou, Alexis 2022. The conflicts of duty: The opinions and actions of the British Society of Friends in the Middle East, 1936-1958. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Abstract

This thesis explores the challenges the British Society of Friends (Quakers) faced in their missionary-humanitarian work in Palestine and neighbouring countries. The influence of nationality on their faith-based policies is a central theme. The core questions proposed focus on Quaker attempts to align their faith as Christian pacifists with their role as British citizens, how their sense of duty was constructed in such terms and the challenges they faced in adhering to both philosophies, especially in their reactions to violence, which differed depending on the perpetrator – British, Arab or Jewish. The actions of the British government repeatedly forced Quakers to consider their identity and their efforts to influence foreign policy, providing an opportunity for historians to investigate what was British and what was Quaker in this context. The research involved analysing particular projects and individual experiences through the Quaker press as well as private documents. The Quakers’ sense of duty as British citizens and substantial confidence in their individual and collective ability to reconcile warring parties produced outcomes that significantly impacted their status in the region. British Quakers, who referred to themselves as Friends, used their multiple connections to senior British, Jewish, and Arab officials during several attempts at reconciliation. However, their loyalty to Britain saw certain individuals and groups act as Christian pacifists who assisted British hegemony, demonstrating a paternalist or orientalist attitude. The Arab Revolt, the creation of Israel, the humanitarian emergency that followed, and the Suez Crisis are the main case studies explored. This allows the thesis to not only investigate British Quaker activities in the Middle East, which has been little studied hitherto, but also to add to British imperial history and the history of humanitarianism.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 May 2022
Date of Acceptance: 30 May 2022
Last Modified: 30 May 2022 10:57
URI: https://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/150118

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