By exploring how the security dimensions of energy were not intrinsically linked to a particular source of power but rather to political choices about America's role in the world, Shulman ultimately suggests that contemporary global struggles over energy will never disappear, even if oil is someday displaced by alternative sources of power.
The Age of Empire was driven by coal, and the Middle East—as an idea—was made by coal. Coal’s imperial infrastructure presaged the geopolitics of oil that wreaks carnage today, as carbonization threatens our very climate. Powering Empire argues that we cannot promote worldwide decarbonization without first understanding the history of the globalization of carbon energy. How did this black rock come to have such long-lasting power over the world economy? Focusing on the flow of British carbon energy to the Middle East, On Barak excavates the historic nexus between coal and empire to reveal the political and military motives behind what is conventionally seen as a technological innovation. He provocatively recounts the carbon-intensive entanglements of Western and non-Western powers and reveals unfamiliar resources—such as Islamic risk-aversion and Gandhian vegetarianism—for a climate justice that relies on more diverse and ethical solutions worldwide.
From 1868–1872, German geologist Ferdinand von Richthofen went on an expedition to China. His reports on what he found there would transform Western interest in China from the land of porcelain and tea to a repository of immense coal reserves. By the 1890s, European and American powers and the Qing state and local elites battled for control over the rights to these valuable mineral deposits. As coal went from a useful commodity to the essential fuel of industrialization, this vast natural resource would prove integral to the struggle for political control of China. Geology served both as the handmaiden to European imperialism and the rallying point of Chinese resistance to Western encroachment. In the late nineteenth century both foreign powers and the Chinese viewed control over mineral resources as the key to modernization and industrialization. When the first China Geological Survey began work in the 1910s, conceptions of natural resources had already shifted, and the Qing state expanded its control over mining rights, setting the precedent for the subsequent Republican and People's Republic of China regimes. In Empires of Coal, Shellen Xiao Wu argues that the changes specific to the late Qing were part of global trends in the nineteenth century, when the rise of science and industrialization destabilized global systems and caused widespread unrest and the toppling of ruling regimes around the world.
Social science research is emerging on a range of issues around large and small-scale mining, connecting them to broader social, cultural, political, historical and economic factors rather than purely measuring the environmental impacts of mining. Within this broader context of global scholarly attention on extractive industries, this book explores two specific contexts: the cultural politics of coal and coal mining, within the context of one particular country, India, which is the third largest coal producer in the world. Both contexts are special; with its separate Ministry, coal occupies pride of place in contemporary India, shaping the energy future and influencing the economic and political milieu of the country. The supremacy attributed to coal mining in contemporary India represents how ‘coal nationalism’ has replaced ‘coal colonialism’ in the country, turning this commodity into an icon, a national symbol. In recent years the extraction of coal in forest-covered resource peripheries has dispossessed and pauperised many tribal and rural communities who have used these resource-rich lands for their livelihoods for generations. The combustion of coal to produce electricity constitutes the compelling need, and the factor that prevents the Indian state from fully engaging with the impending realities of a climate-changed future. All these reasons make the timing of this book of crucial importance. In particular, The Coal Nation explores the complex history of coal in India; from its colonial legacies to contemporary cultural and social impacts of mining; land ownership and moral resource rights; protective legislation for coal as well as for the indigenous and local communities; the question of legality, illegitimacy and illicit mining and of social justice. Presenting cutting-edge multidisciplinary social science research on coal and mining in India, The Coal Nation initiates a productive dialogue amongst academics and between them and activists.
The Oxford Handbook of Energy and Society presents an overview of this expanding area that has evolved dramatically over the past decade, away from one largely dominated by structural, political economic treatments on the one hand, and social-psychological studies of individual-level attitudes and behaviors on the other, toward a far more conceptually and methodologically rich and exciting field that brings in, for example, social practices, system complexity, risk theory, social studies of science, and social movements theories. This volume seeks to capture the variety of scales and methods, and range of both conceptual and empirical analyses that define the field, while drawing particular attention to indigenous peoples, poverty, political power, communities and cities. Organized into seven sections, chapters cover social theory and energy-society relations, political-economic perspectives, consumption dynamics, energy equity and energy poverty, energy and publics, energy and governance, as well as emerging trends.