Michael Limberg

Image of Michael Limberg, department of HistoryField: U.S. History
Specialty: U.S. Foreign Relations

Advisor: Frank Costigliola

B.A. History and Political Studies, Gordon College, 2006
M.A. U.S. History, University of Colorado-Boulder, 2009

Dissertation Title: “An Abundant Life: U.S. Development in the Near East, 1919-1939”

Research Interests:

My dissertation focuses on the efforts of a network of U.S. missionaries, philanthropists, and diplomats to encourage economic and social development in Turkey, Lebanon, and Palestine during the 1920s and 1930s. I argue that after World War I, emergency aid and missionary proselytization in the region expanded into long-term programs to reform governments, improve economies, and transform societies. Between World War I and World War II, these different groups of U.S. missionaries and philanthropists shaped U.S. foreign relations in the Near East. Their models of development blended religious ideas for personal improvement and character formation with social reform aimed at stimulating economies, reforming politics, and encouraging social freedoms. Americans working on these projects both cooperated and fought with nationalist politicians, religious reformers, and colonial officials, and these interactions reshaped their ideas of what modernity or progress could be.

My dissertation and my teaching reflect my larger research interests in the connections between ideas and structures of power and between domestic culture and foreign policy.


“Kellogg-Briand Pact” in Dictionary of American History, Supplement: America in the World, 1776 to Present, ed. Edward J. Blum, Cara L. Burnidge, Emily Conroy-Krutz, and David Kinkela, forthcoming.

“In Relation to the Pact”: Radical Pacifists and the Kellogg-Briand Pact, 1928-1939,” Peace and Change 39, no.3 (July 2014): 395-420.

Review of Caitlin Carenen, The Fervent Embrace: Liberal Protestants, Evangelicals, and Israel (New York: NYU Press, 2012), International Bulletin of Missionary Research 37, no.3 (July 2013): 186.

Selected Presentations:

“A City of Meetings: Fighting for Self-Determination and Cooperation in the Jerusalem YMCA, 1919-1935,” at the American Society of Church History Meeting, Minneapolis, April 2015.

“A Full Round of Life for All: From Near East Relief to Near East Foundation,” at the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations Annual Meeting, University of Kentucky, June 2014.

“Extension: The Wide Reach of U.S. Rural Education Practices,” with Allison Horrocks, for the University of Connecticut History Department’s Wednesday Workshop Series, February 2014.

“The Obligations of Sovereignty: Joseph Grew and Turkish Modernity at the Lausanne Conference, 1922-1923,” at the American Historical Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans January 2013.

“Winning New Friends and Influencing New People: The YMCA in Turkey, 1923-1939,” at the Conference on Faith and History biannual meeting, Gordon College, October 2012.

“Building a New Jerusalem: The YMCA Re-envisions Palestine, 1920-1936,” at the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations Annual Meeting, Hartford, June 2012.

Fellowships and Prizes:

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dissertation Fellowship, Spring 2015
Library Research Grant, Friends of the Princeton University Library, 2014
Michael Dunphy Scholarship, 2014
Grant-in-aid, Rockefeller Archive Center, 2013
Albert E. and Wilda E. Van Dusen Scholarship, 2012, 2013
Clarke Chambers Travel Fellowship, Kautz Family YMCA Archives, University of MN, 2011
Outstanding Scholars Program Fellowship, 2010-2014
Thomas G. Paterson Graduate Fellowship, 2010