Energy imperialism? Resources, power and environment (19th-20th Cent.)


Energy imperialism? Introduction to the special issue

Teaching Fellow, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London


Marie Curie Sklodowska Individual Research Fellowship, Department of History, University of Warwick

In this special issue, we reflect on the relations between energy systems and imperialism via multiple expressions: the role of oil in international relations, the global economy, and the post-colonial world; the problem of waste created by the oil industry; the relations between capitalism and…

Alternatives to energy imperialism: Energy and rising economies

Western Michigan University

This paper argues that efforts to gain secure access to and control over energy resources to fuel rapidly growing economies often rely on alternatives to energy imperialism.  In the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries, rising economies utilized a variety of strategies to supply…

“Jumped on the boat of a territorialist organization”: State and capital at the origins of oil imperialism

University of Padova, francesco.petrini[at]

Modern imperialism springs from the interaction of the geopolitical and economic logics. The international oil industry offers an ideal case study of this connection. The links between nation states and multinational oil companies have been close and mutually advantageous. The oil majors took…

Stains of Empire: accumulation by contamination in the Gulf

Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London


McGill University

Since the discovery of oil in the Gulf, the military-industrial complex has expanded the scale and scope of capital accumulation. We argue in this paper that the corollary to capital accumulation is contamination of human ecology, cannibalizing the daily life of many people having to…

French energy imperialism in Vietnam and the conquest of Tonkin (1873-1885)

European University Institute.

This article posits that the French conquest of Vietnam was undertook notably to appropriate its coal resources for the energy supply of the French Navy, and that French imperialism was in that case an ‘energy imperialism’. Hence, it argues that the conquest of Tonkin and Annam (1873-1885) can…

Building 'oil' in British India: a category, an infrastructure

Doctoral Fellow, Department of Anthropology, Columbia University, New York.

This paper traces the history of oil being reined in by the British Raj, from the 1870s to the early 20th C. I argue that oil is not a self-evident object, but a category built by regimes of thought. Second I argue that oil became an infrastructure, used by the colonial state to…

Oil, dollars, and US power in the 1970s: re-viewing the connections

Ca’ Foscari University Venice.

Petrodollars – the dollars accumulated by oil-producing countries as revenues for oil exports – are usually considered key to our understanding of the renewal and transformation of US power during the 1970s. Yet, in the context of a large and expanding literature, in which the…

Transnational capital markets and development policies: the OPEC countries, the Eurocurrency markets, and the LDCs from the 1960s to the 1970s

University of Naples L'Orientale


In the wake of a recent literature in international banking and financial history focused on the role of western commercial banks in placing the OPEC nations' assets with international borrowers, this article examines the role of leading Wall Street American banks in reflowing the investments of…