Theses Doctoral

The Iraq-Mediterranean Pipelines and Power in the Middle East, 1925-1973

Pesaran, Natasha Guiti

This dissertation explores the relationship between foreign oil capital, transnational infrastructures, and power in the Middle East through an examination of the history of the trans-border pipeline system that exported Iraq’s oil to Europe via the Mediterranean. Built in 1935 by the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC), an international oil consortium jointly owned by a group of Western oil companies, the Iraq-Mediterranean pipelines ran from northern Iraq to two points on the Mediterranean coast, crossing the borders of five states.

The Iraq-Mediterranean pipelines were the product of large capital investment and were constructed during a period of European imperial rule. They could not be easily moved or diverted once built. This dissertation asks, in what ways did trans-border flows of oil shape and were shaped by processes of decolonization and the emergence of independent nation states? Existing studies of Middle East oil development rarely consider the fact that oil infrastructures extended beyond the territorial boundaries of the nation-state, focusing instead on the effects of oil revenues on the political economy of oil-producing states.

Rather than reading oil as a stand-in for something else, such as revenues, geopolitics, or modernity, this dissertation examines the material structures and technical organization of the oil industry itself. Drawing on extensive research in oil company archives, government archives and published materials in English, Arabic, and French, this dissertation argues that the Iraq-Mediterranean pipelines shaped temporally and spatially uneven and overlapping forms of corporate and state power during successive phases of planning, construction, and operation from the late 1920s to the early 1970s.


  • thumnail for Pesaran_columbia_0054D_17066.pdf Pesaran_columbia_0054D_17066.pdf application/pdf 2.45 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Khalidi, Rashid
Elshakry, Marwa
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
March 23, 2022