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Geographies of Contact

Caroline Lehni
Fanny Moghaddassi
Hélène Ibata
et al.

II. Mapping the Orient

Conflicted Cartographies of a Peninsula: Deconstructing Fraser Hunter’s 1908 Map of Arabia

Daniel Foliard

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It took Frederick Fraser Hunter (1876-1959) months of a long winter in Simla, the summer capital of the British Raj, to draw an up-to-date map of Arabia for the Indian government (Fig. 1).1 Hunter had joined the Survey of India in 1905 after years of service in the Indian Army.2 He was friends with William Shakespear (1878-1915). This resourceful Anglo-Indian officer became the youngest consul in the Indian Political Service by the early twentieth century when he was appointed in the Persian Gulf. Hunter’s relations thus placed him within a network of Anglo-Indian intelligencers that shaped British policies in Persia, Mesopotamia and Arabia.3 British India had then carved out its own sphere of influence in the area; its geopolitical priorities could sometimes clash with strategic views in London. Mapping Arabia therefore amounted to much more than disinterested science. It was part and parcel of India’s promotion of its ascendancy in the region. Hunter worked strenuously, in consult...


Lecturer in British studies at Paris Ouest Nanterre la Défense University. His main research area is the British Empire in the nineteenth century with a focus on its visualizations. His first book entitled Dislocating the Orient will be published by the University of Chicago Press in 2017. The volume sets out to explore the genealogy of the Middle East as a geographical concept. He has also published articles on British and French early photography in the East in the Revue d’histoire du xixe siècle and Études Photographiques. He is currently working on the imagery of colonial violence before the First World War.

© Presses universitaires de Strasbourg, 2017

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