Video: Historian Darren Dochuk on the power of religion and oil in America

Author: Todd Boruff

Notre Dame historian Darren Dochuk’s research focuses on the United States in the long 20th century, with emphasis on religion, politics, and the rising influence of the American West and Sunbelt Southwest in national life.

His current project, tentatively titled Anointed With Oil: God and Black Gold in America’s Century, examines religion and politics in North America’s age of oil — from 1890 to the present — through the lens of two prominent oil families, the Rockefellers and the Pews.

“Oil sparked a certain imagination of progress, a certain ambition for American dominance in the world in the 20th century, and then religion helped frame that imagination,” said Dochuk, an associate professor of history.

Dochuk, who joined the Notre Dame faculty in 2015, hopes to complicate the American understanding of oil as a resource and uncover why topics such as alternative energy and sustainability are so contentious in modern society.

“Oil has always held us for reasons beyond economic interest, and it is going to therefore be difficult for us to imagine a future until we separate ourselves from that,” said Dochuk.

You can also watch this video on YouTube.

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Originally published by Todd Boruff at on May 12, 2016.