Third World Oil Crises: Global Connections, Everyday Repercussions, and the 1970s

George Roberts's picture
Call for Papers
July 1, 2021
Subject Fields: 
African History / Studies, Asian History / Studies, Environmental History / Studies, Latin American and Caribbean History / Studies, World History / Studies
Call for Papers - Virtual Workshop
25-27 August 2021
Deadline for submissions: 1 July 2021
The first ‘oil crisis’ of the mid-1970s is widely considered to be a key juncture in the global history of the twentieth century. However, scholarship on the crisis predominantly focuses on Europe, North America, and the Middle East. It also concentrates on its macroeconomic and diplomatic dimensions. Yet the consequences of the oil crisis were felt strongest by ordinary people across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America. As the price of oil rose, many agricultural and primary commodity prices collapsed, confronting ‘Third World’ economies with a serious foreign exchange crisis and shortages of consumer goods. The oil shock forced a reckoning with post-colonial ideological and developmental agendas. In petroleum importing countries, it challenged the ability of the state to meet citizens’ needs and posed new questions of social contracts. Meanwhile, the sudden influx of petrodollars confronted oil producing states with upheavals of their own. Although these changes were near simultaneous and globally connected, their effects were diverse and even divergent, around the world and among societies. These transformations were not just experienced by communities, but actively shaped through their creative responses, whether at the level of the state, the family, or grassroots organisations.
This workshop will explore how the oil crisis and its aftermath reshaped livelihoods, environments, and politics across the Third World. Moving beyond macroeconomic and diplomatic narratives, it will address a more open-ended set of inquiries that examine the social, environmental, political, cultural, and intellectual histories of the oil crisis. Suggested themes for papers may include (but are certainly not limited to):
  • changed notions of citizenship and the politics of deprivation, shortage, and austerity
  • the search for alternative forms of energy, materials, and commodities
  • altered conceptions of development, the future, and temporality
  • new forms of grassroots and transnational social movements
  • novel or fragmented transnational political solidarities
  • ideas of sustainability and ecological consciousness
  • the emergence of new economic practices
  • social consequences of the 'crisis' in petroleum-producing states
With the aim of constructing a more capacious history of the oil crisis, we hope to encourage conversations among historians across disciplinary sub-fields and regional specialisations, as well as from researchers working in adjacent disciplines whose work is of a historical nature. We envisage the workshop as an exploratory space for discussing work-in-progress and building future collaborations, rather than for the presentation of finished work. In view of the difficulties of conducting research over the past year due to the pandemic, we welcome work which remains in early stages of development, particularly from PhD students and Early Career Researchers. The workshop will take place online, with half-day sessions spread across three days, scheduled in such a way as to enable participation from researchers based around the world. We especially encourage submissions from scholars based at institutions in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America. An internet data allowance will be available to participants who require one.
We ask interested participants to send details of their name, affiliation, paper title, and 250 word abstract to and by 1 July 2021. Please also get in touch if you have any questions.
Supported by the Susan Manning Workshop Fund from the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) at the University of Edinburgh