Pervasive petrocultures: histories, ideas and practices of fossil fuels


Pervasive petrocultures: histories, ideas and practices of fossil fuels

Chalmers University of Technology


Lund University


KTH Royal Institute of Technology

This special issue focuses on the concept of petroculture and its relationship with energy history and energy humanities. The contributions explore many facets of oil, including far-reaching impacts of petroleum on identities and practices as well as the role of economic, geopolitical and…

Petrocultures in the making: Oil in 1920s Scandinavian newspapers

University of Oslo, Norway

Based on the assumption that the periodical press was crucial for synchronising the world and preparing for global energy transition in the early 20th C., the article proposes a historiography of oil that acknowledges newspapers’ excess capacity as research material and takes advantage of…

Creating the conditions for Western European petroculture: The Marshall Plan, the politics of the OEEC, and the transition from coal to oil

Institute of Social Ecology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, and Institute for History and European Ethnology, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck 


Department of History, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University 


History Department, University of Basel, and Laboratory for the History of Science and Technology, EPFL (Swiss  Federal Institute of Technology), Lausanne 

In the postwar years, petroleum products pervaded more and more aspects of Western European life. In this article, we study the origins of this pervasive petroculture through the lens of the Marshall Plan/European Recovery Program (ERP), its Refinery Expansion Program, and the politics of the…

The ubiquity of Royal Dutch Shell in the Netherlands as a case of banal petroculture

Utrecht University/ Stellenbosch University

In 1995 Michael Billig introduced the term ‘banal nationalism’ to refer to those representations and reproductions of the nation which are as ubiquitous as they tend to go unnoticed. I try to link this concept to ‘petroculture’ since that notion too refers to practices that are so pervasive in…

Oceanic irrealism. Danish petrofiction below the surface

Postdoctoral researcher, University of Southern Denmark

This article ventures seaward to examine how two contemporary Danish novels paradoxically uses irrealist features to make visible the existent opacity and mythology of oil. Respectively, the novel På ryggen af en tyr (2014; On the Back of a Bull) by Kristina Stoltz employs…

The endless potentiality: A century and a half of Greek oil aspirations (and what often becomes of them)

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens & Adjunct Faculty, Department of Electrical Engineering, University of West Attica


Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Mediterranean Studies of the Foundation of Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH)


Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Mediterranean Studies of the Foundation of Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH) & Adjunct Faculty, Graduate Program in STS, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

This article focuses on select instances of the history of Greek petroleum geology, spanning over 150 years of -mostly failed- oil exploration attempts. Firstly, we focus on the pre-WWII period, and show how early Greek petroleum geologists formed their expertise during successive periods of…

Pervasive extractivism: Petroculture and sedimented histories in Sandrine Bessora’s Petroleum

The University of Southampton

The aim of this paper is twofold, first to explore how Sandrine Bessora’s novel Petroleum (2004) engages with the Medea intertext, and thus inserting itself in a specific literary filiation, addresses the writing of history. Second, how, through the merging of the Medea myth with the Mami Wata…

“Blue-Eyed Arabs” & the Silver Snake: Alaskan petrocultures and the Trans-Alaska pipeline system

University of Alaska Fairbanks

Following fierce construction controversies in the late 1960s and the early 1970s, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System became a familiar cultural hallmark and the most iconic pipeline in the world. This article argues that the realization of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System changed Alaska’s culture…