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Palestine in the Victorian Age: Colonial Encounters in the Holy Land

Narratives of the modern history of Palestine/Israel often begin with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and Britain's arrival in 1917. However, this talk based on the author's Palestine in the Victorian Age argues that the contest over Palestine has its roots deep in the 19th century, with Victorians who first cast the Holy Land as an area to be possessed by empire, then began to devise schemes for its settler colonization.

Event details

The book presents a previously unwritten chapter of Britain's colonial desire, and reveals how indigenous Palestinians began to react against, or accommodate themselves to, the West's fascination with their ancestral land. From the travellers who tried to overturn Jerusalem's holiest sites, to an uprising sparked by a church bell and a missionary's tragic actions, to one Palestinian's eventful visit to the heart of the British Empire, the events of the 19th century have cast a long shadow over the politics of Palestine/Israel ever since.



Dr Gabriel Polley completed his PhD in Palestine studies in the European Centre for Palestine Studies, University of Exeter, in 2020. He previously studied history of art and literature at the University of East Anglia, and Palestine and Arabic studies at Birzeit University, and taught in the West Bank, Palestine. He currently works in London in the translation and international development sector. Palestine in the Victorian Age is his first book.


Tea/coffee will be served in the Common Room from 16:45.


Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies