The Frontiers of Empire: Colonial Policing in Southern Palestine, Sinai, Transjordan and Saudi Arabia

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Policing the frontier regions of Empire in the Middle East was heavily dependent on the indigenous community establishing and maintaining territorial boundaries, enforcing social control, and policing tribal communities. The imperial policies employed evolved over time, and required considerable borrowing from other colonial contexts, trial and error, and modification during times of trouble and resistance. The tribal communities of Southern Palestine, Transjordan, Sinai and Saudi Arabia were crucial in enforcing control across these expansive frontiers. Through flexible policing practices, incorporation of Bedouin knowledge, commitment from local tribal leaders, cooperation among static policing posts, the Camel Corps, mobile units and desert patrols the Bedouin proved central to implementing local and regional colonial policing processes. This paper investigates the range of strategies, practices and mechanisms of policing in the frontiers during the British colonial era and considers their outcomes. Despite Bedouin resistance to British rule, their recruitment into a local force was pivotal in securing the frontier of Empire and the reliance on tribes was also indicative of the power of the Bedouin in the frontier zones.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)899-939
Number of pages41
JournalJournal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Bedouin
  • colonial policing
  • colonialism
  • frontiers of empire
  • the Palestine police

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Development
  • History
  • Political Science and International Relations


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