Standardized Testing: An Imperial Legacy of the Modern Middle East


ACLS Fellowship Program


History and Jewish Studies


This project investigates one of the most durable, pervasive, and understudied legacies of British imperialism in the Middle East: school examinations. “Standardized Testing: An Imperial Legacy of the Modern Middle East” uses Britain’s Middle Eastern mandates to underscore the colonial origins of standardized testing and its perceived value as a universalizing measure of proficiency. It argues that the mandate governments viewed testing as a means of suppressing antiimperial politics. Locals fought to keep and expand the tests, viewing exams as an international metric of academic prowess and often intelligence. This project shows how educational methods become globalized, and how local tensions and agreements regarding imperial policies shaped knowledge and subject formation.