Oil lies at the heart of the modern history of the Middle East. For decades, the world’s largest oil reserves have enriched the region’s nations. But oil wealth has not brought with it universal prosperity. It has, though, transformed the Middle Eastern people and societies—enriching empires and engendering anarchies.
Empires and Anarchies is an unconventional history of oil in the Middle East. In Michael Quentin Morton’s account the burnt-out remains of Saddam Hussein’s armaments and the human tragedy of the Arab Spring are as much of the story as the shimmering skylines of oil-rich nations. From the first explorers trudging through the desert to the excesses of the Peacock Throne and the high stakes of OPEC, Morton lays out the history of oil in compelling detail, arguing that oil simultaneously enriched and fractured the Middle East, eroding traditional ways of life, and eventually contributing to the rise of Islamic radicalism. The book is essential reading for anyone interested in the promises and peril of the world’s oil boom.
Oil has played a major role in Venezuela’s economy since the first gusher was discovered along Lake Maracaibo in 1922. As Miguel Tinker Salas demonstrates, oil has also transformed the country’s social, cultural, and political landscapes. In The Enduring Legacy, Tinker Salas traces the history of the oil industry’s rise in Venezuela from the beginning of the twentieth century, paying particular attention to the experiences and perceptions of industry employees, both foreign and Venezuelan. He reveals how class ambitions and corporate interests combined to reshape many Venezuelans’ ideas of citizenship. Middle-class Venezuelans embraced the oil industry from the start, anticipating that it would transform the country by introducing modern technology, sparking economic development, and breaking the landed elites’ stranglehold. Eventually Venezuelan employees of the industry found that their benefits, including relatively high salaries, fueled loyalty to the oil companies. That loyalty sometimes trumped allegiance to the nation-state.
North American and British petroleum companies, seeking to maintain their stakes in Venezuela, promoted the idea that their interests were synonymous with national development. They set up oil camps—residential communities to house their workers—that brought Venezuelan employees together with workers from the United States and Britain, and eventually with Chinese, West Indian, and Mexican migrants as well. Through the camps, the companies offered not just housing but also schooling, leisure activities, and acculturation into a structured, corporate way of life. Tinker Salas contends that these practices shaped the heart and soul of generations of Venezuelans whom the industry provided with access to a middle-class lifestyle. His interest in how oil suffused the consciousness of Venezuela is personal: Tinker Salas was born and raised in one of its oil camps.
In Energy without Conscience David McDermott Hughes investigates why climate change has yet to be seen as a moral issue. He examines the forces that render the use of fossil fuels ordinary and therefore exempt from ethical evaluation. Hughes centers his analysis on Trinidad and Tobago, which is the world's oldest petro-state, having drilled the first continuously producing oil well in 1866. Marrying historical research with interviews with Trinidadian petroleum scientists, policymakers, technicians, and managers, he draws parallels between Trinidad's eighteenth- and nineteenth-century slave labor energy economy and its contemporary oil industry. Hughes shows how both forms of energy rely upon a complicity that absolves producers and consumers from acknowledging the immoral nature of each. He passionately argues that like slavery, producing oil is a moral choice and that oil is at its most dangerous when it is accepted as an ordinary part of everyday life. Only by rejecting arguments that oil is economically, politically, and technologically necessary, and by acknowledging our complicity in an immoral system, can we stem the damage being done to the planet.
"Growing Apart is an important and distinguished contribution to the literature on the political economy of development. Indonesia and Nigeria have long presented one of the most natural opportunities for comparative study. Peter Lewis, one of America's best scholars of Nigeria, has produced the definitive treatment of their divergent development paths. In the process, he tells us much theoretically about when, why, and how political institutions shape economic growth."
—Larry Diamond, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
"Growing Apart is a careful and sophisticated analysis of the political factors that have shaped the economic fortunes of Indonesia and Nigeria. Both scholars and policymakers will benefit from this book's valuable insights."
—Michael L. Ross, Associate Professor of Political Science, Chair of International Development Studies, UCLA
"Lewis presents an extraordinarily well-documented comparative case study of two countries with a great deal in common, and yet with remarkably different postcolonial histories. His approach is a welcome departure from currently fashionable attempts to explain development using large, multi-country databases packed with often dubious measures of various aspects of 'governance.'"
—Ross H. McLeod, Editor, Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies
"This is a highly readable and important book. Peter Lewis provides us with both a compelling institutionalist analysis of economic development performance and a very insightful comparative account of the political economies of two highly complex developing countries, Nigeria and Indonesia. His well-informed account generates interesting findings by focusing on the ability of leaders in both countries to make credible commitments to the private sector and assemble pro-growth coalitions. This kind of cross-regional political economy is often advocated in the profession but actually quite rare because it is so hard to do well. Lewis's book will set the standard for a long time."
—Nicolas van de Walle, John S. Knight Professor of International Studies, Cornell University
Peter M. Lewis is Associate Professor and Director of the African Studies Program, Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies.
In 1933 American oilmen representing what later became the Arabian American Oil Company (Aramco) signed a concession agreement with the Saudi Arabian king granting the company sole proprietorship over the oil reserves in the country’s largest province. As drilling commenced and wells proliferated, Aramco soon became a major presence in the region. In this book Chad H. Parker tells Aramco’s story, showing how an American company seeking resources and profits not only contributed to Saudi “nation building” but helped define U.S. foreign policy during the early Cold War. In the years following World War II, as Aramco expanded its role in Saudi Arabia, the idea of “modernization” emerged as a central component of American foreign policy toward newly independent states. Although the company engaged in practices supportive of U.S. goals, its own modernizing efforts tended to be pragmatic rather than policy-driven, more consistent with furthering its business interests than with validating abstract theories. Aramco built the infrastructure necessary to extract oil and also carved an American suburb out of the Arabian desert, with all the air-conditioned comforts of Western modern life. At the same time, executives cultivated powerful relationships with Saudi government officials and, to the annoyance of U.S. officials, even served the monarchy in diplomatic disputes. Before long the company became the principal American diplomatic, political, and cultural agent in the country, a role it would continue to play until 1973, when the Saudi government took over its operation.
The discovery of enormous oil reserves in the early 1970s revolutionized Mexico's economy and political behavior, bringing soaring revenues and industrial development. The oil glut of 1981 and wild fluctuations in world prices, pushed the country to the brink of bankruptcy. George W. Grayson describes how the roller-coaster economic ride, shrill nationalism, political assertiveness, and arrogant posturing of the 1970s have given way to greater professionalism, fiscal responsibility, and a cooperative attitude towards the United States in recent times.
Oil and Nation places petroleum at the center of Bolivia’s contentious twentieth-century history. Bolivia’s oil, Cote argues, instigated the largest war in Latin America in the 1900s, provoked the first nationalization of a major foreign company by a Latin American state, and shaped both the course and the consequences of Bolivia’s transformative National Revolution of 1952. Oil and natural gas continue to steer the country under the government of Evo Morales, who renationalized hydrocarbons in 2006 and has used revenues from the sector to reduce poverty and increase infrastructure development in South America’s poorest country.
The book advances chronologically from Bolivia’s earliest petroleum pioneers in the nineteenth century until the present, inserting oil into historical debates about Bolivian ethnic, racial, and environmental issues, and within development strategies by different administrations. While Bolivia is best known for its tin mining, Oil and Nation makes the case that nationalist reformers viewed hydrocarbons and the state oil company as a way to modernize the country away from the tin monoculture and its powerful backers and toward an oil-powered future.
Oil and Urbanization on the Pacific Coast tells the story of oilman Ralph Bramel Lloyd, a small business owner who drove the development of one of America’s largest oil fields. Lloyd invested his petroleum earnings in commercial real estate—much of it centered around automobiles and the fuel they require—in several western cities, notably Portland, Oregon. Putting the history of extractive industry in dialogue with the history of urban development, Michael R. Adamson shows how energy is woven into the fabric of modern life, and how the “energy capital” of Los Angeles exerted far-flung influence in the US West.
A contribution to the relatively understudied history of small businesses in the United States, Oil and Urbanization on the Pacific Coast explores issues of interest to multiple audiences, such as the competition for influence over urban development waged among local growth machines and outside corporate interests; the urban rivalries of a region; the importance of public capital in mobilizing the commercial real estate sector during the Great Depression and World War II; and the relationships among owners, architects, and contractors in the execution of commercial building projects.
Oil and Water: A Novel
Mei Mei Evans University of Alaska Press, 2013 Library of Congress PS3605.V3693O45 2013 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
What happens when the American dream collides head-on with a nation’s dependence on fossil fuels? Oil and Water, a novel by Mei Mei Evans, focuses on precisely this question. Starting with a star-crossed supertanker, a wayward fishing boat, and a well-known hazard in the Gulf of Alaska, the story presents a region plunged into an oil-slicked crisis. As thousands of miles of shoreline and sea are obliterated, the spill threatens the lives and livelihoods of the coastal community of Selby.
At the center of the disaster are Gregg, a down-on-his-luck skipper, and Lee, his lone deckhand. As they cross paths with the tanker and later the residents of Selby, they are faced with decisions that will have a lasting impact on the entire community. And when the residents are presented with a controversial deal—accept handouts in the form of work from the very company responsible for the disaster—they must learn just how important it is to find strength in the connections that bind humans to each other and the natural world.
Evans’s compelling story, influenced by her own experiences during the Exxon Valdez oil spill, is a provocative look at the choice that must be made between environmental safety and economic survival. A PEN/Bellwether Prize finalist, it will have readers reconsidering where they draw their own lines.
For decades, China’s Xinjiang region has been the site of clashes between long-residing Uyghur and Han settlers. Up until now, much scholarly attention has been paid to state actions and the Uyghur’s efforts to resist cultural and economic repression. This has left the other half of the puzzle—the motivations and ambitions of Han settlers themselves—sorely understudied.
With Oil and Water, anthropologist Tom Cliff offers the first ethnographic study of Han in Xinjiang, using in-depth vignettes, oral histories, and more than fifty original photographs to explore how and why they became the people they are now. By shifting focus to the lived experience of ordinary Han settlers, Oil and Water provides an entirely new perspective on Chinese nation building in the twenty-first century and demonstrates the vital role that Xinjiang Han play in national politics—not simply as Beijing’s pawns, but as individuals pursuing their own survival and dreams on the frontier.
Colliding environmental and development interests have shaped national policy reforms supporting both oil development and environmental protection in Alaska. Oil and Wilderness in Alaska examines three significant national policy reform efforts that came out of these conflicts: the development of the Trans-Alaska pipeline, the establishment of a vast system of protected natural areas through the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, and the reform of the environmental management of the marine oil trade in Alaska to reduce the risk of oil pollution after the Exxon Valdez disaster.
Illuminating the delicate balance and give-and-take between environmental and commercial interests, as well as larger issues shaping policy reforms, Busenberg applies a theoretical framework to examine the processes and consequences of these reforms at the state, national, and international levels. The author examines the enduring institutional legacies and policy consequences of each reform period, their consequences for environmental protection, and the national and international repercussions of reform efforts. The author concludes by describing the continuing policy conflicts concerning oil development and nature conservation in Alaska left unresolved by these reforms. Rich case descriptions illustrate the author’s points and make this book an essential resource for professors and students interested in policies concerning Alaska, the Arctic, oil development, nature conservation, marine oil spills, the policy process, and policy theory.
The Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan while Chechnya still struggles under a shadow of violence, and the nations surrounding them are barely more stable. Add in the significant reserves scattered throughout Central Asia and you have a volatile political cocktail that makes the region, in Rob Johnson’s words, the “new Middle East.” In Oil, Islam and Conflict, Johnson provides an essential analysis of the region’s tumultuous history and uncertain future.
Johnson examines the problems that have plagued the region, including civil wars in Afghanistan and Tajikistan and burgeoning Islamist terrorist movements in several nations. He explains the complex role played by narcotics, ethnic tensions, and the potential wealth from oil and gas reserves in the region’s political maneuverings, and delineates the complex links between civil violence and the policies of Central Asian governments on such crucial issues as human rights, economic development and energy.
A timely investigation, Oil, Islam and Conflict will be required reading for all those invested in the threat of terrorism and the future of energy security.
When Nigeria hosted the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) in 1977, it celebrated a global vision of black nationhood and citizenship animated by the exuberance of its recent oil boom. Andrew Apter's The Pan-African Nation tells the full story of this cultural extravaganza, from Nigeria's spectacular rebirth as a rapidly developing petro-state to its dramatic demise when the boom went bust.
According to Apter, FESTAC expanded the horizons of blackness in Nigeria to mirror the global circuits of its economy. By showcasing masks, dances, images, and souvenirs from its many diverse ethnic groups, Nigeria forged a new national culture. In the grandeur of this oil-fed confidence, the nation subsumed all black and African cultures within its empire of cultural signs and erased its colonial legacies from collective memory. As the oil economy collapsed, however, cultural signs became unstable, contributing to rampant violence and dissimulation.
The Pan-African Nation unpacks FESTAC as a historically situated mirror of production in Nigeria. More broadly, it points towards a critique of the political economy of the sign in postcolonial Africa.