A conversation with Darren Dochuk (University of Notre Dame). Moderated by Jennifer Wenzel (Columbia University).
Co-sponsored by the Center for American Studies, the Columbia Climate School, the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, the Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities, and the Department of Religion.
Few would question petroleum’s historical importance to our nation, or the critical role that Christianity has played in shaping its contours. Yet what happens if we link both entities together and place them at the center of modern American history? In this talk Darren Dochuk will explore how, from its earliest discovery during the Civil War to the present, this liquid resource assumed sacred form as the nation's special blessing and its peculiar burden, the source of its prophetic mission in the world. In the boardrooms, drill sites, pulpits, and pews of this country’s oil patches, meanwhile, petroleum executives, wildcat producers, and rank-and-file workers who mutually embraced oil as God’s gift fundamentally transformed US religion and politics—boosting America's ascent as the preeminent global power, fueling the rise of the evangelical Republican Right, and setting the terms for today's debates over energy and environment. With an eye to current trends, and America’s moment of crisis, in this talk Dochuk will measure the legacies of religion and oil’s distinctive bond.