British imperialism in Cyprus, 1878–1915

The inconsequential possession

By Andrekos Varnava

British imperialism in Cyprus, 1878–1915


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8640-3
  • Pages: 336
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £18.99
  • Published Date: July 2012
  • BIC Category: European history, Colonialism & imperialism, HISTORY / Europe / General, Humanities / European history, Humanities / Colonialism & imperialism, History, Europe
  • Series: Studies in Imperialism


This book explores the tensions underlying British imperialism in Cyprus. Much has been written about the British empire's construction outside Europe, yet there is little on the same themes in Britain's tiny empire in 'Europe'.

This study follows Cyprus' progress from a perceived imperial asset to an expendable backwater by explaining how the Union Jack came to fly over the island and why after thirty-five years the British wanted it lowered. Cyprus' importance was always more imagined than real and was enmeshed within widely held cultural signifiers and myths. This book fills a gap in the existing literature on the early British period in Cyprus and challenges the received and monolithic view that British imperial policy was based primarily or exclusively on strategic-military considerations.

The combination of archival research, cultural analysis and visual narrative that makes for an enjoyable read for academics and students of imperial, British and European history.


By far the best book about the early decades of British rule on Cyprus.... This book, unlike those, deserves a wide readership and not just among Hellenists."


Andrekos Varnava is Lecturer in Modern History at Flinders University of South Australia


1. Historicising the British possession of Cyprus: The contexts
2. Cyprus from Richard Coeur de Lion to Disraeli: The imperial imagination
3. Justifying the occupation of Cyprus, 1876-78: 'The key of western Asia'
4. The sublime illusions: 1878-80: The Mediterranean 'Eldorado'
5. Financial policy and the development of Cyprus, 1880-1912: The 'mill-stone'
6. From multiculturalism to multi-nationalism: The 'European' possession
7. Cyprus' strategic place in the British imperial structure: The backwater
8. 'Cyprus is of no use to anybody': The pawn

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