Nelida Fuccaro

Back to list

Nelida Fuccaro is a historian of the modern Middle East and Professor of History at NYU Abu Dhabi. Formerly based at SOAS University of London, she has worked on the social and cultural history of the oil industry, urban history, the history of public violence, and on the interplay between ethnicity and nationalism in frontier societies.  Located at the intersection of various disciplines, in the last few years her research has been concerned with the diverse histories of visual and material cultures of oil and modernity in the Gulf, Iraq and Arabian Peninsula.  She is the author of The Other Kurds: Yazidis in Colonial Iraq (London: IB Tauris, 1999), Histories of City and State in the Persian Gulf: Manama since 1800 (Cambridge University Press, 2009, paperback 2011), the guest editor of the thematic contribution ‘Histories of Oil and Urban Modernity in the Middle East’ in Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (2013), the co-editor of Urban Violence in the Middle East (Berghahn, 2015), and the editor of Violence and the City in the Modern Middle East (Stanford University Press, 2016).  She has recently co-edited with Mandana Limbert Life Worlds of Middle Eastern Oil: Histories and Ethnographies of Black Gold (Edinburgh University Press, 2023).


  • Nelida Fuccaro and Mandana E. Limbert, eds, Life Worlds of Middle Eastern Oil: Histories and Ethnographies of Black Gold (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2023), 296p., ISBN: 978-1-3995-0614-4. 
  • ‘Scouting for oil in the Middle East’ (with Mandana E. Limbert) and ‘The Oil Company’s Fields of Vision: Public Relations and Labour Images in the Arab World’ in N. Fuccaro and Mandana E. Limbert (eds), Life Worlds of Middle Eastern Oil: Histories and Ethnographies of Black Gold (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2023), pp. 3-27 and 87-119.
  • ‘Oil Towns as Petro-Histories’ in C. Hein (ed.) The Global Petroleumscape: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the Spaces and Imaginaries of Oil (Routledge, 2021), pp. 129-144.
  • ‘Oilmen, Petroleum Arabism and OPEC: New Political and Public Cultures of Oil in the Arab World, 1959-1964’ in G. Garavini and D. H. Claes (eds), Handbook of OPEC and the Global Energy Order: Past, Present and Future Challenges (Routledge, 2020), pp. 15-30.
  • ‘Introduction’ and ‘Shaping the Urban Life of Oil in Bahrain; Consumerism, Leisure and Public Communication in Manama and in the Oil camps, 1932-1960s’ special issue in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, edited by Nelida Fuccaro, 33/1(2013), pp. 1-6 and 59-74.


  • Material and Visual Histories of Oil Infrastructure in the Global South’
  • Nelida Fuccaro, NYU Abu Dhabi and Mattin Biglari, University of Bristol and Zentrum Modern Orient, Berlin
  • Building on the recent surge of scholarship in the Energy and Environmental Humanities, Science and Technology Studies and Energy’s Visual Cultures, this project led by Nelida Fuccaro and Mattin Biglari and with the participation of OCMELA’s members investigates the visual/material axis that helps to explain oil infrastructure’s deep entanglements with social, cultural, and political life in the twentieth century. We wish to explore discrepancies between realities and representation in the age of petroleum dominance across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, and understand how images as the material byproduct of oil’s new worlds mediated experiences of the industry, contributing to shaping the power/fragility of its infrastructure. 
  •  This project is part of several initiatives: NYU Abu Dhabi’s Global Crossroads initiative in the Arts and Humanities Division, the Centre for Environmental Humanities at Bristol University and the project ‘Environment and Justice’ at the Zentrum Moderner Orient.  A conference will follow the online workshop which took place in March 2023. For more information contact Nelida Fuccaro (nf58@ and Mattin Biglari (