Sir Philip Mitchell and the Indian Ocean, 1944–49

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This article examines the strategic initiatives that Sir Philip Mitchell, governor of Kenya, brought to Great Britain’s Indian Ocean imperial and diplomatic policy in the years following the Second World War. Seeking to give strategic shape to his own coastal Islamic sympathies, Mitchell encroached on high-level policy debates with a proposal to reorganise Britain’s Western Indian Ocean around a political directorate to administer the coastal zones from Aden to Tanganyika. Such a cadre, Mitchell argued, would provide a valuable defensive bulwark against nationalist agitation and a ‘civilised’ foundation for local government initiatives. This paper brings together biography, strategic policy and area studies to demonstrate how Africa’s decolonisation shaped and limited the strategic options for Britain’s post-war Indian Ocean policy. Mitchell’s proposal broached a fascinating debate concerning the Indian Ocean as a realm of historical experience and future political construction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)998-1025
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2 2017


  • Decolonisation
  • Indian Ocean
  • Kenya
  • biography
  • sovereignty
  • strategy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • History
  • Political Science and International Relations


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