Working for Oil: Comparative Social Histories of Labor in the Global Oil Industry

Tyler Priest Discussion

Announcing a new publication for energy, labor, and social historians:

Working for Oil: Comparative Social Histories of Labor in the Global Oil Industry (Palgrave, 2018)
Edited by Touraj Atabaki, Elisabetta Bini, and Kaveh Ehsani

Table of Contents:

Introduction - Touraj Atabaki, Elisabetta Bini, and Kaveh Ehsani

Disappearing the Workers: How Labor in the Oil
Complex Has Been Made Invisible
- Kaveh Ehsani

Part I The Political Life of Oil

The Zero-Sum Game of Early Oil Extraction Relations in Colombia: Workers, Tropical Oil, and the Police State,
- Stefano Tijerina

Fluid History: Oil Workers and the Iranian Revolution - Peyman Jafari

Norwegian Oil Workers: From Rebels to Parters in the
Tripartite System
- Helge Ryggvik

The Role of Labor in Transforming Nigerian Oil Politics - Andrew Lawrence

The End of “The Good Fight”? Organized Labor and the Petro-nation During the Neoliberalization of the Oil Industry
in Ecuador
- Gabriela Valdivia and Marcela Benavides

Part II The Productive Life of Oil

Indian Migrant Workers in the Iranian Oil Industry
- Touraj Atabaki

Cat Crackers and Picket Lines: Organized Labor
in US Gulf Coast Oil Refining
- Tyler Priest

White-Collar Wildcatters and Wildcat Strikes: Oil Experts,
Global Contracts, and the Transformation of Labor in
Postwar Houston
- Betsy A. Beasley

Heroic “Black Gold”? Working for Oil and Gas in the
Western Siberian Oil and Gas Complex of the 1960–1970s
- Dunja Krempin

Part III The Social and Urban Life of Oil

Building an Oil Empire: Labor and Gender Relations in
American Company Towns in Libya, 1950s–1970s
- Elisabetta Bini

Tapline, Welfare Capitalism, and Mass Mobilization in
Lebanon, 1950–1964
- Zachary Davis Cuyler

“Oil Is Our Wet Nurse”: Oil Production and Munayshilar
(Oil Workers) in Soviet Kazakhstan
- Saulesh Yessenova

Doubly Invisible: Women’s Labor in the US Gulf of Mexico Offshore Oil and Gas Industry - Diane E. Austin


“It is astonishing how little is said currently about those millions of people who toil for oil—the colossal industry that anchors the whole of the global political economy. This important volume gives a new life to the field by bringing together valuable studies from different regions of the world. It is a must-read for those who want to understand the changing fortune of life and labor in the world’s most strategic energy sector.”
—Asef Bayat, Professor of Sociology and Bastian Professor of Global Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

“Working for Oil offers a valuable compendium of social relations across the most vital industry of the twentieth century. Stretching from Iran to Mexico and the U.S. Gulf Coast to Norway and Siberia, these studies highlight both the integrating discipline of the capitalist marketplace and the extraordinary diversity with which workers and their communities have adapted to a technological imperative.”
—Leon Fink, Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Illinois in Chicago, and the editor of the journal Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas

“While the literature on the petroleum industry is vast, research about oil workers is anything but. This collection addresses that gap, bringing together scholarship about labor from all oil regions of the world. The global and multidisciplinary approach is rich and complex, setting a high standard for future scholars and inviting them to follow suit.”
—Myrna Santiago, Professor of History at the Saint Mary’s College of California

“By attending to the complex role played by workers in the fossil fuel industries, this splendid book fills a major gap in contemporary analyses of the oil industry. The essays included in Working for Oil examine labor at important moments in the history of oil and at key sites around the world, while introducing us to the distinct experiences of organized labor, women, and migrant workers. Superbly researched, this collection promises to reshape debates and discussions in both labor studies and energy studies for years to come. Essential.”
—Imre Szeman, Professor of English and Canada Research Chair of Cultural Studies at University of Alberta, and co-director of the Petrocultures Research Group

“Without oil the world economy would grind to a halt. Petroleum not only fuels cars and airplanes, it is also used to produce plastics, fertilizers, and cosmetics. We all know about the multinational corporations dominating the oil market, but we never hear much about the people who actually do the work, and produce the world’s major commercial energy source. The present volume offers a completely new perspective. It is a pioneering exploration of the oil proletariat, covering the history of major production sites on five continents, and the daily lives and struggles of oil workers in these places. The book is indispensable reading for all those interested in the global history of labor.”
—Marcel van der Linden, Senior Researcher at the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam

“There is no convincing answer to the question why historians of the oil industry have ignored its workers nor why working class historians have ignored the oil sector, but this collection clarifies why both kinds of histories are the worse for it. Working for Oil is a game changer.”
—Robert Vitalis, Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

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