Date of Submission

Spring 2019

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Historical Studies; Middle Eastern Studies

Project Advisor 1

Omar Cheta

Abstract/Artist's Statement

The TAPline Company, incorporated in 1945 in the state of Delaware as a private subsidiary of the massive oil conglomerate Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO), occupied a position of significant authority in the Middle East. Designed in accordance with the U.S. government’s broader post-war economic agenda, TAPline was the means by which Washington subsidized ARAMCO’s expansion in the Middle East. It was thus a link between the government and the private oil industry, and was as much a project of the private sector and the government. However, through a reading of multiple archives, I argue in this thesis that the TAPline Company, at the moment when the U.S. and its economy were becoming hegemonic, was in large part independent of Washington—it repeatedly attempted to distinguish itself from the government. In addition, I show that the TAPline Company, as an authoritative influence in the Middle East, influenced the policies of Arab governments and subsequently assembled an early alliance to rally around the petroleum industry. In a process of historical revision and in examining the TAPline Company’s relationship with the state of Syria, I reexamine the constitution of American power in the early years of the postcolonial period in the Middle East. What was TAPline’s relationship with the United States and how does it characterize a larger trend in both the U.S. and the Middle East? How was TAPline involved in the development of oil politics of Arab states? How did TAPline shape the trajectory of postcolonial states in the Levant, particularly Syria?

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