The Politics of God and Black Gold on a Global Stage
This essay examines the history of the Great Canadian Oil Sands enterprise between the 1950s and 1970s, through the lens of religion and politics. Focusing on two architects of the project—Alberta Premier Ernest Manning and Sunoco executive J. Howard Pew, the essayunderscores the unique bond that transnational evangelical Protestantism and the petroleum sector shared during the Cold War. It also demonstrates the need to embed matters of faith in global histories of money and raw materials. Commodities like oil have always elicited millennial dreams, stirred notions of exceptionalism, and driven religious laborers and imperatives to distant shores. Last, it underscores the multilateral, multidirectional nature of this transnational exchange. This enterprise was the product of a world system, in which theologies of resource management, corporate and churchly alliances, financial and political incentives, and outcomes of lasting import flowed into and out of Alberta from multiple angles.
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