Petro-Apocalypse Now: The Certain Future and Speculative History of Oil

Lecture Description

The lecture surveys and critiques the burgeoning literature on “petro-criticism” and “energy humanities.” It argues that much of the writing in this genre reads into the history of oil the story of future catastrophe. Apocalyptic projections of what the future of oil holds distort our effort to understand the oil history. The lecture takes issue with essentialist narratives that are often rife with factual errors, evidentiary problems, and a lack of empathy for historical actors. Historians still have a lot of work to do in explaining the role of labor, technology, culture, and politics in the development of the oil industry in the United States.

CATEGORIES

Environment and Natural Resources Technology and Industry

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