3 pm to 5 pm
“Children of Israel: The Faith, Politics, and Crises of Petro-Wealth in Depression-Era Texas”
Darren Dochuk, Washington University in St. Louis
This paper, drawn from a book project, Anointed With Oil: God and Black Gold in America’s Century, explores the oil frenzy of 1930s East Texas, during which the politicization of religious-minded roughnecks and wildcatters altered the life of the nation. Amid the excitement of this gusher age, many rank-and-file church folk, both white and black, found oil beneath their churches and began interpreting their petro-wealth as providential. In their minds they were the Children of Israel, a people favored by God. Such confidence, and unprecedented fortune, thrust them out of affliction into a fresh political reality in which they could engage debates about resource management and land use, government regulation and corporate power, and the proper roles of organized labor, churches, and the state as empowered citizens.
Commentators: Christopher Cantwell, University of Missouri-Kansas City and Tom Alter, University of Illinois at Chicago
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