Area Studies: Origins, Dilemmas, Key Concepts and Future Development: Lecture 4 | Prof. Tim Niblock

On the morning of April 19, 2019, the 4th session of the lecture series presented by Prof. Tim Niblock was held at Conference Room 205 of the Central Main Building of Tsinghua University. The topic was “The impact of colonialism and western hegemony in the shaping of contemporary societies, economies and state structures: the Middle East).

At the beginning of the lecture, Prof. Niblock reviewed the lecture last week, emphasized the importance of interdisciplinary and comparative research in area studies, and encouraged doctoral students on-site to try collaborative research.

In the main body of this session, he first clarified the definition of colonialism and introduced the global development of European colonialism in the 18th and 19th centuries, the prosperous period of colonialism. He focused on the differences in the implementation of colonialism in the Middle East by the three Western hegemonic countries, i.e., Britain, France and Italy, during this period. He pointed out that France and Italy were highly aggressive in their respective colonies, trying to assimilate local civilization, and French colonialism also had a tendency of orientalism. In contrary, British colonialism focused on indirect control and was relatively moderate.

Prof. Niblock further explained the important influence of colonialism in shaping the states of the Middle East. Tim stated that the colonialism of Britain and France prevented the Arab countries from becoming complete and unified countries, and to a certain extent continued their dominance in the region. The liberalization process in the Arab region also presents different situations. The Gulf region is still gaining power by the elites who are strongly connected with the suzerain state and have not been able to get rid of the rule of Western colonial powers. Algeria and Libya have experienced fierce anti-colonial wars. The Palestinian-Israeli issue has become one of the main sources of the Middle East conflict.

At the end of the lecture, Prof. Niblock and the doctoral students of IIAS had a lively discussion on the different influences of colonialism on the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia and other regions, which received positive responses from all participants.

By Cheng Yao & Wang Tingyi