Oily standards : neo-colonization and the civilizing narrative in Venezuela



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In order to operate in Venezuela Standard Oil had to fund and construct the infrastructure and exploration necessary for production. Rather than frame their efforts as solely beneficial for the company Standard couched its projects in Venezuela within a civilizing narrative. By justifying its undertakings both domestically and abroad in terms of assistance and foreign aid, Standard engaged in a modern invocation of empire; one more concerned with managerial and economic control than territorial expansionism. Within company publications Standard advertised itself as an indispensable economic and humanitarian entity, with superior technology and the desire to improve Venezuela’s living and educational standards. Altering the traditionally colonial civilizing narrative into a narrative of modernity and development, the company presented the United States as the pinnacle of modernity. As a result, Standard’s modernizing foreign policy resulted in the dissemination of an Americanized way of life.


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