Oil, oligopolies, and state responses: a global and local history of oil markets, 1860s-1939

Feb 19, 2024 - Feb 20, 2024
Call for Papers/ Workshop
Call for Papers

Note: Organizers are open to all proposals, but are especially interested in finding someone to talk about China. Please pass this CFP to anyone who might be interested in contributing.

Oil, oligopolies, and state responses: a global and local history of oil markets, 1860s-1939
Workshop at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim 19.-20. February 2024
Organizers: Saara Matala (Chalmers University of Technology), Pål Thonstad Sandvik (NTNU), and Espen Storli (NTNU)

Oil was the most important commodity of the twentieth century. It fundamentally changed societies, markets, and the relationship between states and companies. Oil is a business with high fixed costs, encouraging companies
to seek economies of scale and market dominaton. From the start of the modern industry in the 1860s, the international oil markets within a few decades came to be dominated by a few large vertically integrated global companies. The oil majors at times competed vigorously, but mostly colluded in international cartels. This meant that a few large companies tightly controlled the market for the product that societies became increasingly dependent on. All over the world, states had to find a way to deal with the market power of the dominant oil companies. The question of whether and how the authorities should regulate the oil markets became a burning political issue that brought about a diverse array of national strategies.

The aim of this workshop is to discuss the role of firms and states in creating international markets for oil. We are encouraging contributions focusing on different national cases that examine the development of market power, cartels, political reactions to market power, and the emergence of state oil companies or other forms of state regulation of oil markets. By covering cases from different continents and different countries, the workshop will serve as a starting point to discuss the global and comparative history of the development of the international oil markets.

There is extensive literature discussing the relationship between the oil majors and the oil-producing states, but the literature has mainly focused on the extraction stage of the industry. By focusing on the market stage, where the companies made their profits, the workshop papers will contribute to broadening our understanding of the history of the most important commodity
in the contemporary era.

We aim to publish (a selection of) the papers either as an edited volume or a special issue of a peer-reviewed journal. We welcome proposals of maximum 500 words, along with current CVs.

Deadline for paper proposals: November 31, 2023.

The workshop dinners and lunches are complimentary. We will also cover accommodaSon costs. For contributors without recourse to travel funds, there is some funds to support travel costs. For any queries related to the workshop, contact Espen Storli at [email protected]

Thomas David DuBois 杜博思
Professor of Humanities, Beijing Normal University | 北京师范大学文学院教授

Contact Information
Espen Storli – [email protected]

Chalmers University of Technology, Norges Teknisk-Naturvitenskapelige Universitet (NTNU)
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim

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