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Making Hegemony in the Middle East


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Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs

Sovereignty, Order and Conflict presents 

Jacob Mundy

Associate Professor, Colgate University

Making Hegemony in the Middle East

The region of the Middle East holds a central place in narratives of the reluctant postwar American empire. Proponents of American dominance have even bemoaned the US “retreat” from the region as an assault on the international security arrangements that have underwritten global prosperity since 1945. There are threefold problems with this understanding, starting with the notion of hegemony as commonly used by international relations scholars and the US foreign policy “commentariat,” which often bear no relation to its Gramscian inspiration. Secondly, the narratives marshalled forth in these accounts, whether critical, apologetic, or laudatory of US policy in the Middle East, are unable to account for the contradictions and ambiguity of the actual history of America’s entanglement in the region. Finally, the Middle East itself is untheorized, passing as a Bourdieuian doxa when in fact the ideational, material, and spatio-territorial formation of the contemporary Middle East can only be understood as immanently emergent within the very mutual constitution of the Middle East and the refashioning of America’s global power since the mid-Cold War. Ultimately, this intervention seeks to account for the reasons why the making and unmaking of US hegemony has been tied to the making and unmaking of the Middle East.

Co-Sponsored by the Geography Department

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