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David Wight

Dr. David Wight

Contact Information

Email: dmwight@uncg.edu 
Office: 2123 MHRA 


Ph.D., University of California Irvine, 2014
M.A., University of California Irvine, 2010
B.A., University of California Santa Barbara, 2007

Academic Positions

  • Visiting Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2017-present
  • U.S. Foreign Policy and International Security Fellow, Dickey Center for International Understanding, Dartmouth College, 2016-2017
  • Ernest May Fellow in History and Policy, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University, 2015-2016
  • Humanities Research Associate, University of California Irvine, 2014-2015

Research Interests

  • United States and the World
  • Middle East-US Relations
  • International Studies/Security
  • Global Political Economy
  • Environmental History
  • Public History
  • Immigration, Ethnicity, and Race

Current Project

My second book project explores the dramatic rise in the number of Arab students attending universities in the United States and of American professors developing educational programs in the Arab world during the Cold War, primarily financed by petrodollars. Utilizing Arabic and English-language governmental records, university and student organization papers, interviews, and popular media, my research charts the connections formed through educational exchanges between the United States and Egypt, the Levant, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula. I also compare US educational programs in the Arab world with those of other anglophone countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia and analyze US collaborations with them. I focus on how these international networks reshaped the political, religious, and cultural activities of students and educators; and how these exchanges reformulated geostrategic, development, and commercial ties between states, businesses, non-profits, and immigrant communities.

My first book, Oil Money: Middle East Petrodollars and the Transformation of US Empire, 1967-1988 (Cornell University Press, 2021), is the first study to comprehensively explain how the surge in petrodollar profits of oil-rich states during the 1970s dramatically changed logics of power and relationships between the United States and the MENA. This research draws upon Arabic and English language sources from governmental and non-governmental records to chart how corporate and governmental leaders in the United States and allied MENA countries successfully negotiated a new cooperative order based upon the recycling of petrodollars after the oil shock of the early 1970s. At the same time, the work explores how the tendency of the US petrodollar order to reinforce structures of economic disparity and conflict also generated cultures of opposition within the United States and the MENA that endangered its long-term viability.

Courses Taught

  • HIS 212: The United States since 1865
  • HIS 218: The World of the Twentieth Century (1945-2000)
  • HIS 340: US since 1945
  • HIS 381: Near and Middle East since WWI
  • HIS 391: Historical Skills and Methods
  • HIS 414/514: Global Cold War
  • HIS 415/515: American Diplomatic History - 20th Century
  • HIS 424/524: US-Middle East Relations
  • HSS 490: Senior Honors Thesis
  • HIS 491: Honors Work: American History
  • HIS 702: Colloquium in American History since 1865
  • HIS 724: 20th Century Topics: The United States and the World

Selected Publications

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  • Oil Money: Middle East Petrodollars and the Transformation of US Empire, 1967-1988 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2021)
  • "The Financial Ties that Bind the Arab Gulf Monarchies and the United States," Middle East Report, no. 303 (Summer 2022)
  • "The United States and International Terrorism" (co-authored with Mary Barton) in The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019)
  • "Henry Kissinger as Contested Historical Icon in Post-9/11 Debates on US Foreign Policy," History & Memory 29, no. 2 (2017): 125-160
  • "Kissinger’s Levantine Dilemma: The Ford Administration and the Syrian Occupation of Lebanon" Diplomatic History 37, no. 1 (2013): 144-177

Selected Awards, Honors, and Fellowships

  • UNCG College of Arts and Sciences Online Course Conversion Stipend, 2020
  • Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2012
  • Kugelman Research Fellowship from the Center for Citizen Peacebuilding, 2012
  • Society for Historians of American Foreign Samuel Flagg Bemis Dissertation Fellowship, 2012
  • Gerald R. Ford Foundation Research Travel Grant, 2011

Public History

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