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Blake Harvey
Department of History

Last modified: Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Historian of oil and Middle East politics to present IUís McNutt Lecture

Jan. 30, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Columbia University historian Timothy Mitchell, whose latest book traces the relationship between carbon-based energy production and the development of democratic institutions, will deliver the 2013 Paul V. McNutt Lecture at Indiana University Bloomington.

Timothy Mitchell

Timothy Mitchell

He will speak on "Carbon Politics: Coal, Oil and the Sources of Democracy" at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11, in the University Club President's Room of the Indiana Memorial Union, 900 E. Seventh St.

The annual McNutt Lecture is sponsored by the Department of History in the College of Arts and Sciences. The lecture is free and open to the public; a reception will follow.

Mitchell is professor in the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures in Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs. His most recent book, "Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil," argues that no nation escapes the political consequences of our dependence on oil -- it shapes the body politic in oil-producing regions and in nations that depend heavily on oil. It examines the role played by fossil fuels, including coal, in the development of industrial democracies, along with the problems created by dependence on oil revenues in the modern-day Middle East.

Mitchell is a political theorist who studies the political economy of the Middle East, the political role of economics and other forms of expert knowledge, the politics of large-scale technical systems and the place of colonialism in the making of modernity. Educated at Queens' College, Cambridge, he completed a Ph.D. in politics and Near Eastern studies at Princeton University.

His books also include "Colonising Egypt" and "Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity." He edited the volume "Questions of Modernity," which brings together the work of leading scholars of South Asia and the Middle East. He has published essays on agrarian transformation, economic reform and the politics of development, often drawing on his research in Egypt.

The annual McNutt Lecture honors Paul V. McNutt, who was dean of the Indiana University School of Law from 1925 to 1933, then became Indiana's governor and later served as U.S. high commissioner to the Philippines, director of the Federal Security Agency and chairman of the War Manpower Commission during World War II. For more information, contact Blake Harvey at the Department of History, 812-855-3236 or