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HIS 168 — The History, Politics, and Business of Middle Eastern Oil

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 8 weeks
Date(s): Apr 13—Jun 1
Time: 5:00—6:50 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Apr 15
Unit: 1
Tuition: $440
Instructor(s): Marwan D. Hanania
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
5:00—6:50 pm (PT)
Apr 13—Jun 1
8 weeks
Refund Date
Apr 15
1 Unit
Marwan D. Hanania
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
The discovery of oil in the early 20th century in the Middle East markedly changed the trajectory not only of the region's politics and economic development but also that of the world at large. With the conflict in Ukraine raging, the impact of the development within the Middle Eastern oil community on global economies is even more pronounced than before.

This course explores the history of oil discovery, exploration, and exploitation in the Middle East. Using an interdisciplinary approach and a multitude of sources, including maps, statistical data, announcements from oil producers, news accounts, and scholarly articles, we will examine the role of imperialism in shaping regional oil economies; the rise of oil organizations like Saudi Aramco, OPEC, and OAPEC; and the oil dimension as a motivating factor for conflict (for instance, the boycott of 1973 and the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and subsequent conflicts). We will also consider the extent to which oil use contributed to—and stunted—development and innovation. In particular, we will examine the political economy of the oil-rich Gulf states and major urban centers in the region such as Jeddah, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Tehran, and Kuwait City, among others. Finally, we will explore the role of Russia, oil and sectarianism, and alternatives to oil.


Marwan D. Hanania has taught at Stanford, Coastal Carolina University, the American University of Sharjah, San Diego Mesa College, and the University of Nevada, Reno. In addition to teaching for Stanford's Continuing Studies Program, Hanania teaches in the history department at Santa Clara University. He received a PhD in history from Stanford.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.