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“America, Energy and War in the Persian Gulf”

Toby C. Jones
Associate Professor of History, Rutgers University
1.25.18
4pm, Busch 18
Co-Sponsored by the History Department

Over the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the United States waged what should reasonably be argued was a long war in the Middle East. At the heart of this history is a complex relationship between energy, American geopolitical anxiety, revolution, radicalism, and shifting crises in an embattled region. While it is commonly posited that wars in the region can or should be understood as struggles for direct control over oil or that the militarization of the Middle East only reflects the pursuit of petro-dollars, I encourage a new way of thinking. By examining the steady increase of violence in the Persian Gulf that began in the mid-1980s, “America, Energy, and War” argues that that the distinction between energy and war were systematically erased, remade in a new material order of militarized-energy networks. The result has been a deeply entangled history of weapons, oil, and war ever since.

Toby C. Jones is associate professor of history at Rutgers University, New Brunswick where he directs the M.A. program in Global and Comparative History. He teaches courses on global environmental history, energy, and the modern Middle East. Jones is the author of two books. The first, Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia was published by Harvard University Press in 2010. The second, Running Dry: Essays on Energy, Water and Environmental Crisis, published by Rutgers University Press, appeared in 2015. He is currently working on a history of energy and violence and an oral history of the Bahrain uprising. He has written for both scholarly and general audiences, including at the International Journal of Middle East Studies, Journal of American History, South Atlantic Quarterly, Middle East Report, Raritan Quarterly Review, The Nation, Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, the New York Times, and elsewhere. In 2015 Jones was recognized as a Rutgers Chancellor’s Scholar for distinguished scholarship.