*All readings and primary sources may be accessed on Talis Aspire through the following link: Reading List 2020/21
*Certain readings not available through the Reading List are available on the HI114 Moodle page.
*All BP archival sources may also be downloaded here: Primary Sources
Part I: Oil Concessions and the Making of a Global Oil Industry in Khuzestan, Iran
Week 1: Introduction
This session will introduce the organization of the module, the main themes, and set the scene for understanding the dominant ways in which the role of oil has been studied in the history of empire and the Middle East, with a focus on Iran.
Hossein Mahdavy, The Patterns and Problems of Economic Development in Rentier States: The Case of Iran; Studies in the Economic History of the Middle East: From the Rise of Islam to the Present Day, edited by M.A. Cook (London: Oxford University Press, 1970), 428-467.
Week 2: Before and After Oil
We will discuss how shifting historical approaches have represented oil and its impact on society, state formation, and politics. We consider how an approach that takes seriously the technical and material properties of oil alters our understanding of the dominant political and historical narratives and actors in the scholarship.
How does the political history of Iran describe Iran’s social, economic, and political development before oil was discovered in 1908?
How does the BP company history describe Khuzestan province before oil?
What impact does the company think it had on the region?
What is the relation between technology and society?
Nikkie R. Keddie, Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), chapter 4.
R.W. Ferrier, The History of the British Petroleum Company: The Developing Years, 1901-1932, Vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 1-14.
Ross, Michael. “Does Oil Hinder Democracy?” World Politics 53, no. 3 (2001): (skim) 325-357 (read esp. Conclusion).
Michel Callon, 'Society in the Making: The Study of Technology as a Tool for Sociological Analysis,' Wiebe Bijker, Thomas P. Hughes, and Trevor Pinch, eds, The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology (MIT Press 1989), 77-98.
Thomas Hughes, 'The Evolution of Large Technological Systems,' in Wiebe Bijker, Thomas P. Hughes, and Trevor Pinch, eds, The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology (MIT Press 1989), 45-76.
Laurence Paul Elwell-Sutton, Persian Oil: A Study in Power Politics, History and Politics of Oil (Westport, Conn.: Hyperion Press, 1976).
Hossein Mahdavy, “The Patterns and Problems of Economic Development in Rentier States: The Case of Iran,” Studies in the Economic History of the Middle East: From the Rise of Islam to the Present Day, edited by M.A. Cook (London: Oxford University Press, 1970), 428-467.
Michael Watts, “Resource Curse? Governmentality, Oil, and Power in the Niger Delta, Nigeria,” Geopolitics 9 (2004): 50-80.
Daniel Yergin, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power (Simon and Schuster 1991).
Week 3: 1901 D’Arcy Oil Concession and the Anglo-Persian Oil Company
What is the concession contract about?
Who are the main actors in the concession contract?
How is the oil represented?
Why does the British Navy get involved in oil?
How can we think of increasing dominance of British Empire in the Middle East in relation to the global energy shift from coal to oil?
The D'Arcy Concession (especially Articles 1-3), 3040, BP Archive (BP). Please note that the original archival source is in French. Read the text in English by clicking on this link: 1901 D'Arcy Concession (english)
"Lorimer to Ahwaz British Consulate containing extract of letter from Wilson to Reynolds," March 16, 1909, 71194, BP.
Young to Grey, March 7, 1912, 70335, BP.
Bruce Podobnik, Global Energy Shifts (Temple University Press 2006), pp. 29-33, 44-47, 64-67.
Marion Jack (Kent), “The Purchase of the British Government’s Shares in the British Petroleum Company, 1912-1914.” Past and Present 39, no. 1 (April 1968): 139-168.
Timothy Mitchell, 'The Prize from Fairyland,' Carbon Democracy (Verso, 2011), Chapter 2.
Week 4: Boundary Making: Property Claimants and Paper Companies
How is a company or corporation established?
In what ways do local nomadic groups resist or challenge oil company operations?
How do local (Khuzistan) measurements of valuating land in Farsi differ from British measurements in English?
How do company managers go about justifying the superiority of English over Farsi, specifically for calculating the type, price, and size of the land covering the oil regions?
In what ways did the properties of oil shape the history of private property in Iran?
What is a cartel or monopoly arrangement?
How can we think about the construction of company operations or the energy network as a kind of technological zone?
Jenkins to D'Arcy, March 27, 1902, 69403, BP.
Young to Lamb, April 18, 1911, 71691, BP.
Young to Lamb, April 25, 1911, 70335, BP.
"Bakhtiyari Affairs. The Land Problem," signed by M.Y. Young, January 12, 1911, 70335, BP.
Greenway to Lloyd Scott & Co., April 8, 1910, 70275, BP.
Young to ?, January 12, 1911, 71691, BP.
Stephanie Cronin, “The Politics of Debt: The Anglo-Persian Oil Company and the Bakhtiyari Khans,” Middle Eastern Studies 40, no. 4 (2004): 1-34.
Bruce Podobnik, Global Energy Shifts, (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006), pp. 72-74.
Ali Morteza Samsam Ali, The Last of the Khans (2006), pp. 93-96.
Andrew Barry, “Technological Zones.” European Journal of Social Theory 9, no. 2 (2006): 239-253 (esp. p.245 and the Conclusion).
Week 5: Dispossession and Eviction
Through what methods does the company retain control of the property covering the oil regions and justify the resettlement of local land claimants and dwellers to the Iranian government?
Young to Lamb, July 17, 1911, 70335, BP.
"Revolt in Persia," The Times, January 1928, 68419, BP. [Please also read the extract, 'The problem of Persia,' which follows The Times article as well as the APOC advertisement.]
"Persian Concession: 1932-1993," 1-32, 70223, BP. [Read all but focus on Articles 1-3 for the seminar discussion]
Arash Khazeni, Tribes and Empire on the Margines of 19th century Iran (Washington: University of Washington Press, 2010), Chapter 4 (pp. 112-133 and 152-159).
Michael P. Zirinsky, “Imperial Power and Dictatorship: Britain and the Rise of Reza Shah, 1921-1926.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 24, no. 4 (1992): 639-663.
R.W. Ferrier, The History of the British Petroleum Company: The Developing Years, 1901-1932, Vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), Chapters 1-3 [please skim only, focusing on narrative and mode of explanation].
(Recommended) Edward P. Fitzgerald, 'Business Diplomacy: Walter Teagle, Jersey STandard, and the Anglo-French Pipeline Conflict in the Middle East, 1930-31' Business History Review 67 (Summer 1993): 207-245.
Week 6: Reading Week
Part II: Politics of Expertise: Petroleum Knowledge
Week 7: Research and Development: Technical Properties of Oil
How do geologists describe Anglo-Iranian oil in relation to the local environment and the political and historical context? How does this compare with the discussion of truth in scientific texts, according to Bowker?
Is the oil represented differently in a geology article than in a political or company history of the same period?
What technologies made oil competitive with coal?
What are the origins of the oil company’s science according to Bowker?
What does Bowker mean by “infrastructural work”?
Reynolds to Williams, May 30, 1909, 70275, BP.
Cadman to Lloyd, January 17, 1923, 71537, BP.
"Confidential file on considerations for the establishment of a formal Geological Survey Department with permanent staff," 1922-23, 1-15, 71537, BP.
G.M. Lees, “Reservoir Rocks of Persian Oilfields.” Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists 17, no. 3 (1933): 229-240.
G.M. Lees, “The Source Rocks of Persian Oil.” Paper presented at the World Petroleum Congress Proceedings, Imperial College of Science and Technology, London (1933).
Geoffrey Bowker. Science on the Run: Information Management and Industrial Geophysics at Schlumberger, 1920-1940 (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1994), chapter 1 (up to p. 41), pp. 79-96, 166-168.
Bruce Podobnik, Global Energy Shifts, p. 49.
Week 8: Politics of Secrecy and Transparency: Calculating Oil Reserves
What strategies does the company rely on in confronting the Iranian government with regard to the calculation of oil reserves?
How do these strategies differ from the ways in which reserves are discussed within the company, specifically among the engineers?
How do scientific questions of measuring reserves relate to business questions of maximizing profit and political questions of blocking national control?
'Preliminary Report on the Principal Results of my Journey to Persia,' by Dr. H. de Bockh, May, 15, 1924, 1-93, 70501, BP.
Cadman on 'Gas Pressure Problems on Maidan Naftun field and conservation of resources,' July 26, 1923, 70503, BP.
D. Garrow to Fraser, March 21, 1929, 72437, BP.
C.A.P. Southwell to Kemp, September 28, 1933, 8713, BP.
Confidential to Cadman, 15 November 1928,71398, BP.
Greenhouse to Fraser, January 27, 1934, 8713, BP.
'Information for the Persian Government: Article 13,' Mayhew to ?, March 22, 1934, 8713, BP.
Gary Bowden, 'The Social Construction of Validity in Estimates of Us Crude Oil Reserves.' Social Studies of Science 15, no. 2 (1985): 207-240.
Week 9: Anglo-Iranian Oil and the International Scientific Community
Why does the company need to coordinate with the international scientific community in the production of expert knowledge about the oil?
How does the company represent itself in the scientific community?
Does this representation differ from the methods that were used to gather technical information about the oil in the oil regions?
Is Cadman simply a business man (the chairman of an international oil company) or a scientist, or both?
'Director Production Department’s Conference: Exploration and Exploitation – Iran,' July 1949, 44627, BP.
John Cadman, 'Science in the Petroleum Industry,' paper presented at the World Petroleum Congress Proceedings, London 1933.
John Cadman's obituary, in F.E. Smith, 'John Cadman, Baron Cadman 1887-1941,' Obituary notices from the Fellows of the Royal Society 3, no. 10, Dec., 1941: 915-928.
Toby Jones, “Imperial Geology,” in Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2010): esp. pp. 20-24; 31-41; 44-45; 51-53.
(Recommended) R.W. Ferrier, The History of the British Petroleum Company: The Developing Years, 1901-1932, Vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), Chapter 10 (397-460).
(Recommended) Daniel Yergin, The Prize (New York: Free Press, 1992): 248-252 (US pricing oil).
Part III: Building an Oil Labor Regime
Week 10: Infrastructure of Oil Labor
In what ways do the material properties of oil shape the kinds of labor, housing, and work conditions that it requires?
Photographic Material, 1-5, 36530, BP.
Photographic Material, 1-17, 36506, BP.
'Notes on meeting held on 22 Feb. 1934'; 'Notes...24 Feb. 1934'; and 'Notes...27 Feb. 1934,' 1-17, 67590, BP.
'Report by J.M. Wilson...aspects of the Company's building proposals in Persia,' April 3, 1934 and February 5, 1934, 1-22, 49673(1), BP.
'Report on Housing Accommodation Proposals at Masjid-i-Suleiman,' February 17, 1934, 1-7, 496731(2), BP.
Wilson to Jameson, October 26, 1943, 1-2, 68848, BP.
Touraj Atabaki, 'Far from Home, But at Home: Indian Migrant Workers in the Iranian Oil Industry,' Studies in History, 31, no. 1 (2015): 85-114
Touraj Atabaki, 'From ‘Amaleh (Labor) to Kargar (Worker): Recruitment, Work Discipline and Making of the Working Class in the Persian/Iranian Oil Industry.' International Labor and Working-Class History 84 (Fall 2013): 159-175.
Mark Crinson, 'Abadan: Planning and Architecture under the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.' Planning Perspectives 12, no. 3 (1997): 341-359.
Bruce Podobnik, Global Energy Shifts, 47-49.
Recommended: Myrna Santiago, “Social Change in the Huasteca,” Ecology of Oil: Environment, Labor and the Mexican Revolution, 1900 – 1938 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009): 148 – 204.
Week 11: Paternalism and Oil
What is “paternalism”?
How did the company organize a hierarchy of labor in technical terms in order to maintain a peculiar racial-technical distinction between local and foreign workers?
What is the relation between technology, race and society?
Photographic Material, 1-5, 36530, BP.
Photographic Material, 1-17, 36506, BP.
'The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in Iran,' no. 3, 6-9 and 13-24, 129288, BP.
'Note on Plan Proposed by General Managers...Article 16 of Concession,' 1-10, 52889, BP.
Persian Story (Anglo-Iranian Oil Company Film), British Film Institute National Archive, (London: Ralph Keene), 1952. Available at the BP Video Library.
Mona Damluji, 'The Oil City in Focus: The Cinematic Spaces of Abadan in the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company’s Persian Story,' Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 33, no. 1 (2013): 75-88.
Kaveh Ehsani. 'Social Engineering and the Contradictions of Modernization in Khuzestan: A Look at Abadan and Masjed-Soleyman.' International Review of Social History 48, no. 3 (2003): 361-399.
Recommended: Hamid Naficy, A Social History of Iranian Cinema, Volume 1: The Artisanal Era 1897-1941 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011): Chapter 3 'State formation and Non-Fiction Cinema.'
Week 12: Calculability of an Oil Worker
What kinds of arguments do company managers rely on to justify the gradual replacement of British workers with Iranian workers at higher skill levels?
What is the relation between the steps taken to construct the formula and the management of political outcomes, namely limiting the degree of national control (in terms of labor) of the oil?
'Persian Concession, Article 16 – Personnel in Persia,' 16 November 1933, pp. 1-5, 52889, BP.
'Illustration of the Plan desired by the Director of the Oil Department,' n.d., 1-10, 52889, BP.
'Memorandum on Training and Replacement Plan…' 24 October 1933, 1-39, 52889, BP.
Gregory Nowell, Mercantile States and the World Oil Cartel 1900-1939 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994): chapter 5 (esp. 227-244).
(Recommended for context) Katayoun Shafiee, 'A Petro-formula and its World Formula and its World: Calculating Profits, Production, and Labor in the Assembling of Anglo-Iranian Oil,' Economy & Society (2012): 11-17.
Week 13: Vulnerability of the Energy System: Strikes and Unions
To what degree was the oil system vulnerable to the threat of oil worker strikes? Compare with coal.
To what extent did AIOC and the Iranian government coordinate in defeating unionization?
What conclusions can be drawn about the impact of "Persianization"?
Secret report to Cadman on 'H.I.M. The Shah in Khuzistan,' November 15, 1928, 71398, BP.
Memorandum 'Production – April 1951,' 22 May 1951, 91032, BP.
'General Plan,' 2 April 1936, pp.1-11, 126413, BP.
Fred Halliday, 'Iran: Trade Unions and Working Class Opposition.' MERIP Reports, no. 71 (1978): 7-13.
(Recommended) Stephanie Cronin, 'Popular Politics, the New State, and the Birth of the Iranian Working Class: The 1929 Abadan Oil Refinery Strike,' Middle Eastern Studies 5 (September 2010): 699-732.
(Recommended) Bayat, Kaveh. 'With or without Worker's in Reza Shah's Iran: Abadan, May 1929.' In The State and the Subaltern: Modernization, Society, and the State in Turkey and Iran, edited by Tourag
Atabaki, 111-122. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
(Recommended) On Barak, Outsourcing: Energy and Empire in the Age of Coal, 1820-1911, IJMES 47 (2015): 425-445.
Part IV: Combatting Nationalism, Managing Nationalization
Week 14: Politics of a Profit Formula
Formulas played a pivotal role in the history of BP in Iran. How does the company construct the formula in terms of numbers in order to manage the Iranian government’s demands for higher profits?
Is it possible to think about the profit formula as a kind of negotiating tool for preventing a more equitable distribution of profits?
'Schemes 1-3' and 'Investigation of the Problem in General Terms,' 70223, BP: 1-8.
(Recommended for context) Katayoun Shafiee, 'A Petro-Formula and its World: Calculating Profits, Production, and Labor in the Assembling of Anglo-Iranian Oil,' Economy & Society (2012): esp. sections on royalty formula and APQ.
Week 15: Oil Corporations and International Law
The Anglo-Iranian oil nationalization dispute was a landmark case in international law.
How do political histories and the company history describe legal proceedings at the International Court of Justice?
What is the relation between oil and international law?
How can we think of law as a kind of infrastructure for managing energy and politics?
'Persian Oil Nationalisation Laws,' Appendix A, 1-2, 17 December 1953, 58252(2), BP.
'Persian Oil Laws of 1944 and 1947,' Appendix D, 3-4, 58252(2), BP; also includes 'Musaddiq special powers act, 1952,' and 'Persian Mining Law, 1953,' pp. 5-13.
'Persian legislation affecting Negotiations with Persian Government or NIOC,' 15 Dec. 1953, 1-6, 58252(1), BP.
ICJ Pleadings, Anglo-Iranian Co. Case (United Kingdom v. Iran): A (8-14, 17-19), B (398-407, 419-425), C (45-53), D (93-94), D1 (dissent. opinion, optional), D2 (64-82, 124-125), E (Iranian refusal, in French), E1 (321-323, 363-371), G (93-95, 102-107, esp. 111-115), Z (chronology of correspondence, optional).
*Please note that some of the ICJ documents have one page in English followed by the French translation in sequence. Scroll past the pages in French.
Antony Anghie, Imperialism, Sovereignty, and the Making of International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), Chapter 4 (196-235, esp. 211-216 and 223-235).
(Recommended) Christopher Dietrich, Oil Revolution: Anti-colonial elites, sovereign rights, and the culture of decolonisation, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017).
Week 16: Reading Week
Week 17: BP and the 1953 Coup D’état
What role did the oil company play in Iran’s Anglo-American engineered coup d’etat?
What does this connection tell us about the political relation between the private oil corporation and the state (e.g. US, British, and Iranian governments)?
'An Historical Outline from the time of the Supplemental Agreement to the coming to power of Dr. Musaddiq,' October 2, 1951, 142642, BP.
'Further Background Notes on the AIOC,' August 13, 1951, 1-6, 142642, BP.
Foreign Relations of the United States 1951-1954, Iran, 1951-52, (Washington DC: United States Government Publishing Office, 2017): <https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1951-54Iran>
---> US Efforts to Understand Mosadeq, (Feb.1951-Feb.1952): see documents #32, 34, 39, 50, 57, 61, 63
---> The July 1951 Iranian Political Crisis and its Aftermath March (1952-Feb 1953): see documents #99, 134.
---> The Aftermath of Operation TPAJAX (Sept.1953-Dec. 1954): see document #319
Ervand Abrahamian, 'The 1953 Coup in Iran,' Science and Society 65, no. 2 (2001): 182-215.
(Recommended) William R. Louis, 'Britain and the Overthrow of the Mosaddeq Government,' in Mohammed Mossadeq and the 1953 Coup in Iran, eds. Mark J. Gasiorowski and Malcolm Byrne (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2004), 126-177.
Week 18: Reconfiguring Oil Nationalization
Iran’s oil nationalization is managed through the reconfiguration of the British-controlled oil concession in an international oil consortium of the largest Anglo-American oil companies.
How is the new post-World War II petroleum order different from the previous one?
What role do economic sanctions and an international oil boycott play in managing oil nationalization?
'Precis of Schemes Officially Submitted to the Persian Government,' n.d., 1-3, 129492, BP.
Mary Ann Heiss, 'The United States, Great Britain, and the Creation of the Iranian Oil Consortium, 1953-1954.' The International History Review XVI, no. 3 (1994): 511-535. [access on Talis Aspire]
Bruce Podobnik, Global Energy Shifts, pp. 92-100. [access on Talis Aspire]
Timothy Mitchell, Carbon Democracy, chapter 8 (esp. 200-214). [access on Talis Aspire]
Week 19: Reassembling the Global History of Oil and Empire
Peyman Jafari, 'Fluid History: Oil Workers and the Iranian Revolution,' in T. Atabaki, E. Bini, K. Ehsani (eds) Working for Oil (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018): 69-98. [please read pp.69-89 only]
(Recommended) Teresa Turner, 'Oil Workers in the 1978-79 Revolution' ed. Petter Nore and Terisa Turner, Oil and Class Struggle (London: Zed Press, 1980), 272-290.
Andrew Barry, Material Politics: Disputes along the pipeline (London: Wiley Blackwell, 2013): chp.1 (Introduction).
David Bond, 'Governing Disaster: The Political Life of the Environment during the BP Oil Spill,' Cultural Anthropology 28, no. 4 (2013): 694-715.
Michel Callon, 'Some Elements of a Sociology of Translation: Domestication of Scallops and the Fishermen of St. Brieuc Bay,' in The Science Studies Reader, edited by Bruno Biagioli (New York: Routledge, 1999), 67-94. [access on Talis Aspire]
Lussac, S. “The State as a (oil) Company? The Political Economy of Azerbaijan,” GARNET Working Paper 74, (2010): 1-44.
(Recommended) Michael Watts, 'Resource Curse? Governmentality, Oil, and Power in the Niger Delta, Nigeria,' Geopolitics 9 (2004): 50-80.