Date of Completion


Embargo Period



History, US Foreign Policy, Development, Middle East, Religion, Humanitarianism

Major Advisor

Frank Costigliola

Associate Advisor

Bradley Simpson

Associate Advisor

Christopher Clark

Field of Study



Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


In the years between World War I and World War II, a network of American missionaries, philanthropists, diplomats, and Jewish activists created an array of projects to encourage economic, social, and moral development in the Near East. Long before the better-known era of “high modernization” in U.S. foreign relations, these Americans adapted models for community development and racial uplift from the United States to create experimental programs to transform the Near East. Jewish, Christian, and secular philanthropic organizations in the Near East all turned to Progressive-era models for ameliorating poverty, managing public health, and educating racial or ethnic minorities developed by reformers and experts for the United States, particularly the American South. Using Turkey, Lebanon, and Palestine as case studies, this dissertation looks at how Americans adapted to different political, religious, and economic challenges. American development work in the Near East was experimental and diverse, driven by non-state actors, and integrated the language of technopolitics with religion and philanthropy. Using the stories of a number of individuals from the Near East, this dissertation also investigates how local actors responded to or reshaped US development work. It thus recasts scholarship on U.S. involvement in the Middle East, which has tended to focus either on early missionary contacts or Cold War politics, by tracing the intimate connections between them. American work in the Middle East during the interwar period created the experts, institutions, and cultural ideas that shaped future U.S. policies and Middle Eastern governments.

Available for download on Thursday, May 02, 2024