Francesco Gérali

Francesco Gérali is a research professional specialized in the history of the early oil industry. He earned his Ph.D. in the history of science in 2009, and since then he worked as research fellow in academic libraries and special research collections in Italy, the United States, Mexico and Australia. During those experiences, he studied the cumulative process of knowledge and expertise that ignited the early oil industry, and gave birth to our Oil Society. Francesco is working as Content Manager in a digital humanities project at the School of Library and Information Studies of the University of Oklahoma, and he is Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Humanities of the University of Western Australia.



Petroleum between alchemy and chemistry: four centuries of theories

Lundi 14 novembre 2016, 15h-17h, salle 8, 105 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris

About four centuries passed between the first appearance of pamphlets in which the medical uses of petrol were discussed - the Tegernsee (southern Bavaria, 1430), Geneva (Swiss Confederacy, 1480), Nurnberg (northern Bavaria, 1500), and the Antwerp (Duchy of Brabant, today Flanders, 1540–1550) pamphlets - and Michael Faraday’s discovery in 1825 of the chemical composition of benzene derived from bituminous oil as a compound of carbon and hydrogen. The seminar aims to frame and contextualize some of the theories and speculations proposed by natural philosophers, chemists, and early geologists in the modern age.


When oil found momentum: the meaning of the ‘Pennsylvanian Pattern’

Lundi 14 novembre 2016, 17h-19h, salle 8, 105 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris

In mid-nineteenth century, the newly-born American oil industry sparked and influenced the development of world oil production. The lecture aims to focus on north-western Pennsylvania between 1800 and 1860 and to outline a framework in which to relate the conditions, the actors and the processes that in the first six decades of the nineteenth century made possible the transition of oil in Pennsylvania from a raw mineral of secondary importance to the object of an innovative and successful energy production pattern.


Italy, Mexico and Australia between the 19th and 20th century: which one oil?

Vendredi 25 novembre 2016, 15h-17h, salle 6, 105 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris

Studies in the development of the modern oil industry—a key research subject in the field of energy history—cannot only focus on the case history of big producer countries; the cases of minor countries that experienced many difficulties before establishing an efficient oil production system must also be included. Each oil country has its own oil history, the growth of which was marked by internal economic, social and scientific considerations and influenced by external factors. Every episode is important because, beyond the story of successes and failures, there are countless elements that enable the historian to understand and gain new insights into the process of development of the oil industry. This lecture will introduce about the inception of the oil sector in tree countries with very different social, political and economic backgrounds.


The dream in the drawer. Synthetic fuels and the quest for the alternative to oil

Vendredi 25 novembre 2016, 17h-19h, salle 6, 105 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris

Petroleum as a commodity represents not just a mineral resource, but is also better understood as a paradigm that incorporates a set of values, forces, and leverages that shaped the course of social endeavors as diverse as science, technology, and energy production. However, the paradigm had moments of uncertainty and tension during the past one hundred and sixty years. In those moments, scientists, industry practitioners, and government bureaus worked to conceive and put in practice the production of alternative fuels. This seminar aims to describe the contests in which matured the quest for alternative fuels, and to reflection on the several interdependencies occurred between synthetic, conventional, and unconventional oils.