Our Future is Still The Future of 1973: Shell’s Foresight and the Petrocultural Penumbra

New Formations - ISSN 0950-2378
Volume 2021 Number 103

Our Future is Still The Future of 1973: Shell’s Foresight and the Petrocultural Penumbra
Jeff Diamanti, pages 43-62
DOI: 10.3898/NEWF:103.03.2021

Abstract

This article argues that the economic abstraction of fossil fuels into the medium of the market after 1973 makes its force and function in the global economy difficult to see, in the way that the source of a penumbra is obscured by the distribution of its effects over the visual field, but that Shell’s invention of a unique (and now widely adopted) technique for scenarios thinking on the cusp of the 1970s oil crises helps us see the emergence of that recursive futurity in media res. Hence, while the eventual dominance of energy futures trading would, by the end of the 1980s, come to hold the present and future of the global economy to the concrete and abstract materialism of fossil fuels, the focus in this essay is on a novel form of writing that same future strategically and analytically moments before the energy market is restructured. The genealogy offered is of the so-called ‘decision scenario’ invented by Shell and is interesting today for its redefinition of oil from commodity to medium of the market as such, narrating an emergent concept of oil that would eventually get actualised and operationalised in the financial sector over a decade later – even as it would recede from view in discussions of neoliberalism, the post-industrial, and postmodern culture.

SORRY - you are not registered as being permitted online access to the full text of this article

You have the following options:

  1. If you are viewing this via an institution or academic library you can ask that your institution takes out a Subscription to this journal.
  2. If you already have a Personal Subscription please login below


    Forgotten your username / password? Click here to locate

  3. Purchase an annual Personal Subscription
    PRINT + DIGITAL personal subscription (£45 / year)
    DIGITAL personal subscription (£30 / year)
    A Personal Subscription provides immediate access not only to the single article you are seeking, but also to all past and future articles in this journal up to the expiry of your annual (calendar year) subscription.
  4. Purchase immediate access to this single article (UK£7.00) - Buy article Coming Soon

To cite this article
Jeff Diamanti (2021) Our Future is Still The Future of 1973: Shell’s Foresight and the Petrocultural Penumbra, New Formations, 2021(103), 43-62. https://doi.org/10.3898/NEWF:103.03.2021

Share this