Peyman Jafari receives VENI grant to research global oil frontiers

08 April 2022 - 9:25

Great news! Dr. Peyman Jafari, affiliated with the International Institute of Social history and Princeton University, has been awarded a VENI grant of 280.000 euro by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) for his project Oil Frontiers in the British and Dutch Empires: Land, Labour and Environment in the Making of an Imperial Oil Regime, 1890-1940.

Oil has shaped our world profoundly. It has created wealth and mobility, but also socio-ecological degradation and colonial inequalities. Jafari’s project shows how both trends occurred simultaneously due to the ways oil companies and imperial states transformed land ownership, labour relations and the natural environment in oil producing regions. To overcome the obstacles and resistance that they faced in that process, oil corporations introduced legal, managerial and technological solutions that connected the oil producing regions with the rest of the world. The problems of socio-ecological degradation and colonialism were institutionalized through the unequal interaction between empires, oil corporations and local communities involved in oil production. This global history project compares and connects two case studies, southern Iran while under the influence of the British Empire and the Dutch East Indies. It offers a bottom-up perspective on how oil frontiers transformed the countryside in these regions and integrated them into a global system through the movement of people, ideas and technologies.

“Oil corporations such as the forerunners of British Petroleum and the Royal Dutch/Shell, assisted by empires, opened up new oil frontiers through land dispossession that drove migration, introduced indentured and wage labour along racial hierarchies, and changed local ecologies,” explains Jafari.

This project will be hosted at the International Institute of Social History as part of the Commodity Frontiers research group. See also: Peyman Jafari is Postdoctoral Research Associate at Princeton University's Sharmin and Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies.

See for more information on the NWO Talent Programme the following link

Peyman Jafari