Arab oil towns as petro-histories

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter analyses the oil towns built by foreign oil companies in the Arab World after World War II as the traces of an early petroleum modernity closely associated with Western imperialism, old style colonialism, and industrial urbanism. These company towns are considered the expression of a twentieth-century frontier urbanism that structured imperial, colonial, and corporate modernities, while providing models of urban and national development and spatial and political contexts for anti-imperialist mobilization. Nelida Fuccaro argues that before the nationalization of the 1970s and 1980s, the oil/industrial town served as a new type of “hinge”/connective urbanism in Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. This urbanism was structured by the new mobilities and materialities brought into areas of oil production by the development of the petroleum industry: the influx and circulation of workers, technology, expertise, consumer objects, building materials, newspapers, glossy magazines, and corporate propaganda. Petroleum’s increasingly fast development also produced physical and political instability and urban violence. This tension is palpable in the corporate representation of oil towns and their amenities in propaganda efforts by the Iraq Petroleum Company and the Kuwait Oil Company in the 1950s.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOil Spaces
Subtitle of host publicationExploring the Global Petroleumscape
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781000449488
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Engineering
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Environmental Science


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