Henry Stanley’s ‘The East and The West’ (1865): Reflections on Civilization and Identity by Britain’s First Muslim Peer

  • Abstract:

    The 1856 Treaty of Paris exemplified the ‘organized hypocrisy’ (Krasner, 1999) of sovereignty in the nineteenth century. On no occasion were the double standards of the Western powers more visibly on display than when the Ottoman Empire was welcomed into the ‘Concert of Europe’. Such a gratifying political gesture was clearly inconsistent with the extraterritorial privileges still held by European residents in the Middle East that continued to undermine the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire. Even the empty promise of a grand conference on modifying ‘the Capitulations’ failed to dispel the unease over this ambiguity in the minds of some Victorian liberals. Prompted also by fears that consular jurisdiction in China and Japan was to blame for a series of wars in East Asia, the issue of extraterritoriality suddenly became a fierce political controversy in Britain. This paper explores the reflections on ‘civilization’ and identity that developed in Westminster debates and through the press in the 1860s, with particular focus on an 1865 pamphlet entitled The East and the West: Our Dealings with Neighbours. Edited by Henry Stanley, scholar, diplomat and Britain’s first Muslim peer, this series of essays reveals some of the pressing issues arising from everyday concerns over jurisdictional control in Mediterranean port cities like Alexandria and East Asian treaty ports such as Shanghai and Yokohama. In some respects, they address themes strikingly reminiscent of challenges that continue to face multicultural societies today.