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Week 19: Energy and Empire, 1900-1980. Infrastructure.

The twentieth century witnessed technological expansion on a global scale. Fossil fuel based energy infrastructures running along coal seams, railway and transoceanic transport, oil wells, pipelines, and refineries were sites of political contest, between the old European empires and the new postcolonial nations.

Seminar Questions

  • How can we think of empire as almost a by-product of the global energy shift from coal to oil?
  • In what ways did the infrastructural properties of oil shape political possibilities in oil producing states?

Essential Readings

On Barak, ‘Outsourcing: Energy and Empire in the Age of Coal, 1820-1911,’ International Journal of Middle East Studies, 47 (2015)

Timothy Mitchell, ‘The Prize from Fairyland,’ Carbon Democracy (Verso, 2011), pp. 43-65

Further Readings

Bruce Podobnik, Global Energy Shifts (Temple University Press, 2005)

Gabrielle Hecht, Radiance of France (MIT Press, 1998)

Kenneth Pomeranz, Great Divergence (Princeton University Press, 2000)

Katayoun Shafiee, Machineries of Oil (MIT Press, 2018)