Rachel Havrelock, "Pipeline: How Oil Created the Modern Middle East and How Water Can Transform It"

David Lipson Memorial Lecture

The talk charts one hundred years of Middle East history by looking at two pipelines. The first ran from Kirkuk to Haifa conveying oil to a Mediterranean port for the Iraq Petroleum Company. The second facilitates the water exchange between Jordan and Israel as stipulated in the 1994 Peace Treaty. Imagined in the midst of World War I, the IPC oil pipeline drove British policy in the Levant and influenced the ways in which the colonial powers drew borders, established states, and thought about security. Alienated from the resources beneath their feet, Middle Eastern nation-states grew within colonial parameters. A nationalist attachment to territory was one effect of the multinational control of oil. The struggle over water sources has transpired within these national parameters. After considering the history of oil pipelines and the failure of integrated water management, the talk considers current regional approaches to water sharing and how they might form the basis for a different kind of political order. With the shortcomings of nationalism and the risks of privatization, a new orientation toward resources may provide the key to deescalating conflict.

Rachel Havrelock is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. More information.

This lecture is free and open to the public. No registration required. Limited seating.


Date & Time
Monday, September 8, 2014 - 4:00pm

Jackman Humanities Building, Room 100, 170 St. George Street