Vol.8, No.1 | [Article] Pax Britannica and ‘Free Trade and Open Seas’: Shifting British Informal Colonialism in North Africa, 1800–1860s



This paper seeks to explore how British informal colonialism in North Africa was inseparably linked with, and indeed dependent on, their network of
formally controlled imperial domains: Corfu and the Ionian Islands, Malta and Gibraltar. It also sets out to investigate the use made of this chain of colonial
ports—positioned in proximity to the Maghreb—as mediating trade centres/entrepôts, as military-naval stations, and as bases for the penetration and
exploration of the interior of the African continent. Focus is then put on the British deployment of their naval fleet to impose rule of law and free trade, as
well as to suppress any resistance from various indigenous actors. As a conclusion, both immediate and long-term effects which this imperial intrusion
had on regional customary exchange patterns and the political economies of the North African regencies should become clear.

Keywords: British imperialism/dominion, informal colonialism, North Africa, narrow-sea economies, geographical exploration