Genealogies of US-Middle East Entanglements
This session seeks to reframe historical discussions about US interventions in the modern Middle East by moving away from a traditional focus on diplomatic history to a broader range of analytical and conceptual perspectives. The four proposed papers probe the shifting nature and multiple connections between empire-building and region-making:
The first paper explores US-Middle East history as a site of the transnational turn, and the attendant ethical questions around neutrality and subjectivity in light of contemporary US intervention in the region. A second paper considers the impact of the creation of the state of Israel on foreign policy priorities in the region, as well as the Palestine question and the fate of the refugees. The third paper looks at the role of the global Cold War in the Middle East, from Lebanon to the Iran-Iraq War and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, as site of resurgent religious politics and waning secular nationalism. A fourth paper focuses on the nature of ‘transformative occupation’ in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the connections between the Israeli settlement project, Palestinian autonomy and contested sovereignty after the era of decolonization. Taken together, these papers examine both the specificity and pervasiveness of US personnel and institutions in a range of sites of knowledge-production in and about the Middle East, shedding light on the continuities that inhere from imperial rule through the present day.