Outsourcing: Energy and empire in the age of coal, 1820-1911

On Barak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


During the long 19th century, British coal proliferated throughout the Ottoman Empire in increasing quantity, rapidity, and regularity via junctions and political arrangements that became evermore stable and dominant. The British used coal export to project their power elsewhere, offshoring the Industrial Revolution by building an infrastructure that could support it overseas and connect it to existing facets of the imperial project. Examining this outsourcing and the importance of foreign coal markets to industrialization helps provincialize the steam engine and anchor it in a global context. It also allows us to explore the impact of fossil energy on the Middle East and the ways coal both set the stage for the arrival of oil and informed the possibilities for translating carbon power into politics. Coal, the article suggests, animated political participation in England while reinforcing authoritarian tendencies in the Middle East.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-445
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Middle East Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 28 Jul 2015


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