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A Theoretical War: Accounting for American Imperialism in the Middle East

In: Journal of Labor and Society
Author:
Jacob Mundy Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, Colgate University, 13 Oak Drive, Hamilton, NY 13066, USA

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Abstract

This review surveys two decades of academic research on the question of contemporary imperialism and holds it up against the historical record of America’s increasingly violent entanglements in the Middle East over the course of the previous half century, though particularly since 2001. While early contributions to this literature emerged from a different context than the one they often sought or were expected to explain, others attributed a simplistic and problematic understanding of the relationship between US foreign policy and the political-economy of petroleum. Later contributions then eschewed a close analysis of imperialism in the Middle East in favor of a broader accounting of the dynamics of global capitalism. This review ultimately critiques the widespread assumption that the vitality of hegemony and capital must be assessed in relation to their ability to secure control and homogenous conditions of reproduction. A more robust understanding must be based in an approach that views the economic and the political not as fundamental units of analysis but as sites of struggle in the historical and contemporary constitution of imperialism.

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