HIST 570: The Middle East After World War II


Sara Pekow

Day & Time:
Online: T/TH
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

KU Core Goal 4.2
Category II
Image of a City Market at night

The Middle East After World War II

European colonial expansion in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) during the early to mid twentieth century was followed by the seismic impact of World War II, creating ripple effects that were felt for decades throughout the region. We will explore how World War II paved the way for Cold War era politics, with the U.S. and the USSR vying for supremacy, while Great Britain and France attempted to retain their dwindling power, all while independence movements pressed for decolonization in MENA and elsewhere in the Global South. Some of the events we will cover: American covert intervention in Iran during the 1950s aimed at keeping the Shah in power, which ignited a sense of disenfranchisement and anti-imperialism among the local population, eventually leading to the revolution establishing the Islamic Republic in 1979; Gamal Abdel Nasser’s rise to power in Egypt in 1952 and his role in regional politics; Baathist revolts in Syria and Iraq; the birth of the nation of Israel in 1948 and the Nakba–the expulsion of Palestinans from their homes and land–followed by decades of war and diplomacy; and the growth of oil monopolies alongside Saudi Arabia’s dominance in the field and over its subjects. But the major events tell only one part of history–we will also look to everyday life, exploring topics such as food, the environment, gender, and labor relations to fill in the gaps. Students will learn how to use primary sources, including government archives available online, newspapers, fiction, and film. Students’ grades will be based on participation in class discussions on readings and one 15-page paper, the topic for which will be chosen early in the semester and handed in in increments as an outline, a first draft incorporating at least one primary source, a brief presentation, and culminating in a final draft by the end of the semester.