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Britain at the birth of Bangladesh

Debnath, Angela L.; (2012) Britain at the birth of Bangladesh. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

How did Britain perceive the extreme violence that led to the creation of Bangladesh, how did it respond and what factors shaped those perceptions and responses? This thesis seeks to answer these questions using British intelligence reports from 1971 and personal interviews with British diplomats, parliamentarians and government officials of the era. Reflecting both self-interest and genuine concern, British responses to the East Pakistan crisis that ultimately led to the birth of Bangladesh, provide insights into a markedly under-researched episode of nationalist conflict in a former British colony. The range of responses reflects the challenges that the multi-layered violence posed to external observers, and calls into question a widespread tendency to cast the violence as either civil war or genocide. Finally, they illustrate the ambiguities of this juncture in British history when, apparently ready to accept its secondary power status, Britain still sought with varying degrees of success to retain international stature, resulting in a dualistic foreign policy towards South Asia that combined reserve with cautious initiative. By documenting the ambiguities and challenging the relatively simplistic explanations we have of events to date, the thesis provides a deeper understanding of this under-examined yet controversial period in international history when composite violence was met with composite response.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Britain at the birth of Bangladesh
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1546181
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