Modernization in US-Arab Relations, 1945-1967


ACLS Fellowship Program




Using Arabic and English sources, this project examines the politics of modernization in US-Arab relations during the cold war. It argues that Arab and American modernizers, despite radically different aims, imagined societal change similarly. They believed in linear historical progress and described modernity as a system. They debated Arabs’ futures on the terrain of America’s past and present. On this basis, proponents of Arabism, Islamism, American liberalism, and Soviet communism competed to shape Arab development. Faith in rapid modernization did not outlast the 1960s, which culminated in the disasters of Vietnam and the Six-Day War. Rather than a clash of civilizations, the US today confronts the legacies of conflicting development agendas and the assumptions that postwar modernizers shared.