Bini, Elisabetta

Research Fellow

University Federico II Naples, Italy


Max Weber alumnus

Department of History and Civilization

Cohort(s): 2011/2012

Ph.D. Institution

New York University, United States


I earned my PhD in Modern European History from New York University, under the guidance of Professor Mary Nolan. My dissertation is now being published as a book titled "Fueling the Cold War: Oil, Development and Consumption in the Mediterranean, 1945-1973." This book analyzes post-World War II oil politics in the Mediterranean by focusing on a specific case-study, the Italian state-owned oil company Ente nazionale Idrocarburi (National Hydrocarbon Agency, ENI). It examines the role ENI played in rebuilding Italy’s economy and spreading mass motorization by acquiring its own sources of oil in North Africa and the Middle East and pursuing the country’s independence from US, British and French oil firms. It shows that, through ENI, Italy was able to develop new economic and political relationships with North African and Middle Eastern countries, and establish an autonomous position in the Atlantic bloc, as a mediator between decolonizing countries and the Atlantic Alliance.
I am also working on a research project titled "From Colony to Oil Producer: International Oil Politics in Libya, 1951-1981," which examines the ways in which U.S., British and Italian oil companies transformed Libya’s economy and society between the end of Italian colonialism in 1951 and the expulsion of American oil companies from Libya in 1981. My Max Weber Programme Working Paper, "Oil Workers, Trade Unions, and the Emergence of Oil Nationalism in Libya, 1956-1969," which I partly wrote in Washington D.C. as a member of the Seventh Decolonization Seminar, examined the forms of exploitation and resistance that were carried out in American oil fields in Libya. This paper argues that oil workers in Libya challenged the forms of segregation and discrimination introduced in oil camps and company towns, by demanding the right to redefine labor relations through trade unions. During the Six Day War of 1967, they were one of the main forces behind Libya’s attempt to promote oil nationalism, by placing an embargo on oil exports. By doing so, they set the stage for the emergence of Qaddafi’s regime in 1969.
My research interests revolve around the history of transatlantic relations during the Cold War, the history of international oil politics, the history of decolonization and development, the history of consumer culture, and the history of women and gender. In particular, I am interested in the ways in which oil politics shaped relations between North Africa, Western Europe and the United States after the Second World War and in the context of decolonization.
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