An Update from John Bowlus (2011 US TAARII Fellow)

I will always be grateful for my TAARII Fellowship as I simply could not have visited the archives that I did and my dissertation would not be as multi-perspectival as it is. The TAARII Fellowship permitted me to travel to London to view the UK National Archives and then to Coventry to mine the archives of British Petroleum. After Britain, I went to the archives of the Quai D’Orsay and the Total Oil Company in Paris.

It is well known that the British played an important role in Iraq politically until 1958 and in oil until 1972, but the French influence in oil after the nationalization of the Petroleum Company (IPC) in 1972 is less understood. The archives of the Total Oil Company provide a wealth of information, particularly for the period from 1972 to 1980, and few American scholars have examined these sources. I would estimate that roughly 30-40% of the files are in French, but the remaining 60% are in English, since this was the language of interaction between the Iraqis and French on oil matters. Also, Total has all of the files for the IPC, which document the history of the company from 1934 to 1972. An even greater majority of these files are in English, probably 80%.

I would be more than happy to advise fellow TAARII fellowship winners or others who are interested in visiting these archives and look forward to hearing about your work related to the history of Iraq.