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Shades of gray: LSU researcher studies South Louisiana's historical ties to the oil industry
Date:4/20/2011

BATON ROUGE On the one year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that took the lives of 11 men and devastated the livelihoods of many residents of coastal Louisiana, it's difficult to put the complicated relationship between people and oil into perspective. While the environmental impacts have thus far not been as pervasive as originally feared, most scientists are in agreement that it is still simply too early to tell. However, dependence upon oil has not lessened over the past year, laying the groundwork for some very significant debates between environmentalists and economists. In response to the probing questions being asked of science and society, LSU researchers are taking a better look at how oil has influenced Louisiana and how Louisiana influences the industry.

Michael Pasquier, assistant professor of religious studies and historian at LSU, has developed "Standard Lives: Visualizing the Culture of Oil in Louisiana." The goal of this project is to complement scientific investigations of the Deepwater Horizon disaster by documenting the cultural impact of environmental stressors on Louisiana's coastal communities.

"To do this, it's necessary to look at oil from 'the ground up,' so to speak," said Pasquier. "I knew we needed to take a long and unbiased look at Louisiana's relationship with the oil industry, and by extension, its effects on the everyday lives of refinery and offshore workers, as well as the businessmen, teachers, farmers, fishermen, mariners, homemakers and others with direct and indirect ties to petroleum-based services."

Pasquier started his project by delving into a photo collection at the University of Louisville that showcased in detail how the industry fundamentally transformed the social and environmental landscape of Louisiana at mid-century.

In 1943, Standard Oil hired Roy Stryker, famous for directing the United States government's Farm Security Administration photography project d
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Contact: Ashley K. Berthelot
aberth4@lsu.edu
225-278-8694
Louisiana State University
Source:Eurekalert

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