Contemporary life is founded on oil – a cheap, accessible, and rich source of energy that has shaped cities and manufacturing economies at the same time that it has increased mobility, global trade, and environmental devastation. Despite oil’s essential role, full recognition of its social and cultural significance has only become a prominent feature of everyday debate and discussion in the early twenty-first century. Presenting a multifaceted analysis of the cultural, social, and political claims and assumptions that guide how we think and talk about oil, Petrocultures maps the complex and often contradictory ways in which oil has influenced the public’s imagination around the world. This collection of essays shows that oil’s vast network of social and historical narratives and the processes that enable its extraction are what characterize its importance, and that its circulation through this immense web of relations forms worldwide experiences and expectations. Contributors’ essays investigate the discourses surrounding oil in contemporary culture while advancing and configuring new ways to discuss the cultural ecosystem that it has created. A window into the social role of oil, Petrocultures also contemplates what it would mean if human life were no longer deeply shaped by the consumption of fossil fuels.
Sheena Wilson is associate professor of English and cultural studies at the University of Alberta.
Adam Carlson is a PhD candidate in English and film studies at the University of Alberta.
Imre Szeman is Canada Research Chair in Cultural Studies at the University of Alberta.
“Today, oil is everywhere. Yet, we will have to start leaving more of it in the ground if we are going to do what is right for ourselves, our futures, and our environments. Petrocultures helps to make visible how oil has shaped our lives, economies, and c
"Offering a diverse collection of historical, geographical, and literary scholarship, Petrocultures expands the reach of the Energy Humanities and helps to solidify Canadian leadership in this interdisciplinary venture. The collection represents a major contribution to research on the cultural dimensions of the extractive economies of fossil fuel." Stephanie LeMenager, University of Oregon
"This comprehensive collection opens the lid on a barrel of oil and analyzes it from nearly every angle possible: as an infrastructural network, a complicated material substance, an aesthetic, and a philosophical problem. A valuable text featuring the bes