Bet-Shlimon’s article considers the question of how, in the urban arena of Kirkuk, oil acted as a catalyst for development projects in which political, economic, and ideological threads were inextricably intertwined. It contends that the presence of oil in Kirkuk created certain factors that shaped both the trajectory of urban development and its political implications. One of these factors was the presence of many foreign, especially British, workers and executives of the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC). The company’s size also meant that a large number of the city’s residents worked for this foreign-owned enterprise, leading to labor organization and interventions by the company in order to promote capitalist ideals. Second, the fact that the oil industry had greater access to resources and materials than the Kirkuk municipality allowed the IPC to spearhead housing, water, and other infrastructural projects. Finally, as the site where Iraq’s oil wealth was produced, Kirkuk was of vital importance to the Iraqi and British governments, both of whom pressured the IPC to act in ways that would benefit their interests. Throughout these projects and the interactions that accompanied them, the IPC, British government, and Iraqi government operated on the assumption that urban development could counter the influence of communism and lead to the attainment of modernity.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.