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Wed 4 April
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    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
    16.30 - 18.30

Thu 5 April
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Fri 6 April
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    11.00 - 13.00
    14.00 - 16.00
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Sat 7 April
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    14.00 - 16.00
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Wednesday 4 April 2018 8.30 - 10.30
W-1 - LAB15a : Rethinking Oil, Labour and Politics
6CP/01/037 6 Collega Park/ School of Sociology
Networks: Economic History , Labour , Politics, Citizenship, and Nations Chair: Marcel van der Linden
Organizer: Peyman JafariDiscussants: -
Elisabetta Bini : Decolonizing Labor: Oil Workers’ Challenge to American Corporate Politics in Libya, 1950s-1980s
This paper analyzes the ways in which oil workers challenged the labor policies American oil companies introduced in Libya between the late 1950s and the early 1980s. It examines the forms of exploitation and resistance that were carried out in American oil fields and the role oil workers had in ... (Show more)
This paper analyzes the ways in which oil workers challenged the labor policies American oil companies introduced in Libya between the late 1950s and the early 1980s. It examines the forms of exploitation and resistance that were carried out in American oil fields and the role oil workers had in challenging U.S. labor policies by organizing trade unions, promoting strikes, and sabotaging pipelines. This paper argues that oil workers in Libya resisted the forms of segregation and discrimination introduced in oil camps and company towns, by demanding the right to redefine labor relations through trade unions, and establishing ties with other trade unions in Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria. During the Six Day War of 1967, oil workers constituted one of the main forces behind Libya’s attempt to promote oil nationalism, by placing an embargo on oil exports. By doing so, they set the stage for the emergence of Qaddafi’s regime in 1969. The last part of the paper examines the ways in which Qaddafi’s regime redefined labor policies during the 1970s and into the early 1980s. It argues that the nationalization of Libyan oil resources in the early 1970s significantly contained the forms of labor radicalism promoted by oil workers during the 1960s, and led to the establishment of an elite of Libyan technicians that increasingly substituted Americans working in the oil fields. (Show less)

Peyman Jafari : Linkages of Oil and Politics: Oil Strikes and Dual Power in the Iranian Revolution
Examining the role of oil strikes during the Iranian revolution (1978-79), this article challenges dominant narratives of the relationship between oil and politics and the processes that shaped the outcome of the Iranian revolution. The main arguments of the article are presented in critical dialogue with Timothy Mitchell’s Carbon Democracy. ... (Show more)
Examining the role of oil strikes during the Iranian revolution (1978-79), this article challenges dominant narratives of the relationship between oil and politics and the processes that shaped the outcome of the Iranian revolution. The main arguments of the article are presented in critical dialogue with Timothy Mitchell’s Carbon Democracy. Firstly, the article argues that the scale of the oil strikes and their central role in the creation of organs of revolutionary power call into question Mitchell’s generalization about the material characteristics of oil. Secondly, the article argues that the fact that oil workers were able to organize mass strikes, but failed to create an independent organization, calls for an explanatory approach that combines material factors with the role of consciousness, ideology and organization. This leads to a rereading of the Iranian revolution that highlights the role of the oil strikes in the emergence of dual power in early 1979, and the contingency of its outcome. (Show less)

Gemma Jennings : Oil, Identity and Inequality: a Transnational History of Labour
This paper will examine the history of the labour force which extracted, transported and refined Algerian oil over the late twentieth century. The focus will be on oil operations in both France and Algeria, to explore this history across both former colony and metropole. Ultimately, I argue that the history ... (Show more)
This paper will examine the history of the labour force which extracted, transported and refined Algerian oil over the late twentieth century. The focus will be on oil operations in both France and Algeria, to explore this history across both former colony and metropole. Ultimately, I argue that the history of this workforce provides a unique and valuable perspective to wider historiographies of labour and decolonisation in the Franco-Algerian context.
Despite the size and influence of the oil sector, particularly in Algeria, the industry’s labour history has attracted surprisingly little research. This omission is particularly striking given that the labour structures of the oil industry have purportedly had significant social impacts, particularly on gender roles, in other contexts.
This paper, therefore, will focus on oil workers’ activism and labour structures to consider how they shaped the oil sector and its wider social impacts at a local, national and international level. In particular, I trace the extent to which the oil labour force upheld or undermined archetypes of gendered and ethnic difference. The analysis will therefore consider how the workforce interacted with and impacted on a range external groups including national trade unions, non-governmental organisations and local communities (Show less)

Jennifer O'Neil , Vaughan Ellis : Unheard Voices of Decline in the Oil Industry
This research project seeks to examine how the experience of employment in the Scottish oil industry is changing as the industry declines. Focusing on experiences of both those who are directly employed in this industry and workers employed as contractors, this study seeks to contribute to our understanding of how ... (Show more)
This research project seeks to examine how the experience of employment in the Scottish oil industry is changing as the industry declines. Focusing on experiences of both those who are directly employed in this industry and workers employed as contractors, this study seeks to contribute to our understanding of how staff have been affected by organisational responses to falling oil prices. Although press coverage as well as industry and government reports suggest that job security, terms and conditions and career prospects have all been adversely affected, these publications have only considered workers in passing, choosing instead to focus on technical and fiscal challenges facing the industry. To date there has been little consideration by academics of the impact of these changes, and any others which may be occurring. Therefore, what little understanding we presently have about the impact of declining employment opportunities for workers in this industry is drawn from industry and government sources only and does not feature workers’ voices at all. Failing to reflect workers’ voice in policy discussions about how best to safeguard the strategically important oil and gas industry deprives a key stakeholder from shaping interventions to safeguard their employment and potentially means that public policy reflects the interests of stakeholders other than the workforce themselves. This project seeks to rectify this failing by examining workers experiences of change and responses to it, in order that they can be heard in public policy discussions and their interests reflected in policy decisions. (Show less)

Shira Pinhas : From the ‘a’ in Haifa to the Last ‘k’ in Kirkuk: Oil Workers', Infrastructure and the Structuring of the Post-Ottoman Middle East
Mark Sykes’ famous aspiration to draw a line “from the ‘e’ in Acre to the last ‘k’ in Kirkuk” and the subsequent Sykes-Picot agreement are usually seen as the foundations for the establishment of the post-Ottoman ‘Middle East’ as a new space and territory. Yet what this paper seeks to ... (Show more)
Mark Sykes’ famous aspiration to draw a line “from the ‘e’ in Acre to the last ‘k’ in Kirkuk” and the subsequent Sykes-Picot agreement are usually seen as the foundations for the establishment of the post-Ottoman ‘Middle East’ as a new space and territory. Yet what this paper seeks to explore are the ways in which this new space was restructured and redefined by the oil infrastructures that connected Iraq and the Mediterranean coast – pipelines, roads and airfields – and by the labor force that constructed and operated them. Unlike the vast literature emphasizing diplomacy as a determinant of imperial space, this paper seeks to demonstrate how the relationship between infrastructure, mobility and socio-political mobilization of labor collectively facilitated the restructuring of new imperial spatialities.

I will demonstrate these ideas with an analysis of the Kirkuk-Haifa-Tripoli pipelines. Built in 1932-1933, the pipelines connected the oil fields of northern Iraq with the Mediterranean port cities of Haifa and Tripoli. In 1940 the construction of the pipeline’s adjacent Baghdad-Haifa road was completed. During their 16 years of operation, the pipeline and its accompanying road constituted a site along which commodities, technology, labor and management from across the Mashriq intersected. Oil workers from Palestine, Transjordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq met along the pipeline and developed joint repertoires of work, leisure, protest and cooperation. These social networks were mobilized by oil workers to demand that better wages, housing and work safety schemes achieved at one depot of the pipeline would also be established at its other end. Workers also mobilized the new oil animated transport infrastructure that supported the pipeline – the road and the airfield – to demand that people killed in work accidents be returned to their home country for a proper religious burial. Yet workers did not only struggle against the oil companies, but also mobilized the power of these international companies to attain political and social rights from their own governments. Through negotiating nationalism, colonialism, religion and capitalism in a transnational sphere, these oil workers played an important role in redefining the political and economic order of the post-Ottoman Middle East. (Show less)