When we talk about the 1973 energy crisis, we tend to cast it as a moment when Americans questioned assumptions about how the domestic economy worked and the U.S. role in the global economy. We don’t always spend as much time thinking about why the crisis happened, or what it represented in the Global South. OPEC’s decision to cut production and raise prices stemmed from a longer history of anti-colonial activists demanding a fundamental change in how the global economy operated. As countries with oil reserves pushed out colonial powers, local elites demanded sovereignty over their new nation’s political life but also over their natural resources.
Today we speak with Chris Dietrich, who tells us about the longer history of anti-colonial elite thinking about oil, which culminated in what we in the U.S. tend to call the 1973 “energy crisis.”
Chris Dietrich is Associate Professor of History and the Director of American Studies at Fordham University. He is the author of Oil Revolution: Anticolonial Elites, Sovereign Rights, and the Economic Culture of Decolonization.