War, Work and Want: How OPEC Caused Mass Migration and Revolution


In the early 1970s, there was every reason to believe that large-scale immigration to Europe and America would end. In fact, global migration has tripled. This lecture asked why.

The answer, Randall Hansen argued, lies in the way in which the OPEC oil crisis reconfigured the global economy and geopolitics. By destroying economic growth and destabilizing the Middle East, OPEC unleashed processes that resulted in over 100 million unexpected – and unwanted – immigrants.

Randall Hansen is Professor for Political Science at the University of Toronto and serves as the Director of the Munk School’s Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian studies. Besides that, he holds a Canada Research Chair in Global Migration and has published internationally acclaimed books on the topic. In his research he focuses on forced and voluntary migration, citizenship, population policy as well as on the effects of war on civil society. His published works include Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany and Japan (2019) and Sterilized by the State: Eugenics, Race and the Population Scare in 20th Century North America (2014). He is currently Guest of the Institute at the IWM in Vienna where he is working on a book on the work-refugee nexus in Europe.

Ivan Vejvoda, IWM Permanent Fellow, introduced the speaker and moderated the Q&A.

A recording of the event is available below.