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On Petrocultures: Globalization, Culture, and Energy
by Imre Szeman
West Virginia University Press, 2019
eISBN: 978-1-946684-89-9 | Paper: 978-1-946684-88-2 | Cloth: 978-1-946684-87-5
Library of Congress Classification HD9560.5.S994 2019
Dewey Decimal Classification 338.2728


On Petrocultures brings together key essays by Imre Szeman, a leading scholar in the field of energy humanities and a critical voice in debates about globalization and neoliberalism. Szeman’s most important and influential essays, in dialogue with exciting new pieces written for the book, investigate ever-evolving circuits of power in the contemporary world, as manifested in struggles over space and belonging, redefinitions of work and individual autonomy, and the deep links between energy use and climate change.

These essays explore life lived in the twenty-first century by examining critically the vocabulary through which capitalism makes sense of itself, focusing on concepts like the nation, globalization, neoliberalism, creativity, and entrepreneurship. At the heart of the volume is the concept of “petrocultures,” which demands that we understand a fundamental fact of modern life: we are shaped by and through fossil fuels. Szeman argues that we cannot take steps to address global warming without fundamentally changing the social, cultural, and political norms and expectations developed in conjunction with the energy riches of the past century. On Petrocultures maps the significant challenge of our dependence on fossil fuels and probes ways we might begin to leave petrocultures behind.

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