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The Petroleum Century and the Transformation of Global Landscapes 
Blake Earle (Texas AM University at Galveston)
Charlotte Leib (Yale University)
Sheng Fei
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Energy and Infrastructure
University of Oulu, Finland

Short Abstract:

This panel explores how the transition to the wide-spread production of petroleum during the twentieth century transformed landscapes around the globe. Extracting, producing, and transporting petroleum have altered human and natural environments beyond the story of polluted air and befouled waters.

Long Abstract:

The twentieth century was the petroleum century. From international relations, to the global economy, to cultural formation, nearly every aspect of life was, in some way, touched by the ever-increasing production and consumption of petroleum around the globe. While scholars have work detailing the political, economic, and social ramifications of petroleum consumption, less attention has, surprisingly, been paid to the environmental ramifications of petroleum production. Fouled waterways and toxic air are obvious consequences of the widespread embrace of petroleum, but this panel looks beyond by investigating how petrocultures have altered landscapes (and seascapes) in places like North America, Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia. This panel presents an environmental history of the petroleum industry that seeks to understand the material transformations of places occasioned by the intended and unintended consequences of building refineries and transporting petroleum.

This panel engages with the theme of the conference by elucidating how the energy transition to oil and gas of the twentieth century played out in the transformation–often, degradation–of environments around the globe. Though firmly rooted in history the ideas and stories explored in this panel offer the opportunity to reflect on how these transformations continue to resonate in the current day and will, presumably, into the future.

Accepted papers:

Session 1
Session 2