Roberto Cantoni



Roberto Cantoni

Academic title(s)



EHESS / Universität Bonn




post-doc researcher


Paris / Bonn


France / Germany

Visible Email Address

Short biography

Former physicist turned historian and sociologist of technology, I have worked on geophysical technologies as a diplomatic lever in Cold War France and Italy, to then move to societal aspects of shale gas exploration in France and Poland, with some incursions into renewable energy in Morocco and waste management in the south of the Italian State.  I am currently working on socio-economic aspects related to the CIREG project (Climate information for integrated renewable electricity generation), an ERA4CS project focusing on small-scale hydropower in West Africa.

I am part of the editorial board of H-Sci-Med-Tech.

Recent publications



 Cantoni, Roberto. Oil Exploration, Diplomacy and Security in the Early Cold War. The Enemy Underground. London: Routledge, 2017 (ISBN: 1138692905, 9781138692909) 


Refereed journal articles


 Cantoni, Roberto. “Brokers of futures: a study of Poland’s shale gas as a technoscientific promise”. Submitted to Futures.


___, and Karen Rignall. “Solar technopolitics: a critical analysis of Morocco’s solar energy strategy and its local repercussions.” Submitted to Energy Research and Social Sciences.


Cantoni, Roberto. “Second Galicia? Poland’s shale gas affair through historical lenses” (To appear in: The Geological Society of London, Special Publication, “History of the European Oil and Gas Industry”, in press)


___. “What’s in a pipe? NATO’s Confrontation on the 1962 Large-Diameter Pipe Embargo.” Technology and Culture 58, no. 1 (2017): 67-96.


 ___. “The Enemy Underground: Geostrategic Intelligence and the War in Algeria.” History and Technology 32, no. 1 (2016): 33-69. (


 ___. “The waste crisis in Campania, South Italy: a historical perspective on an epidemiological controversy.” Special Issue of Endeavour, “Living in a Toxic World”, 40, no. 2 (June 2016): 102–113. (


 ___. “Breach of faith? Italian-Soviet Cold War trading and ENI’s ‘international oil scandal’.” Quaestio Rossica 2015 (4): 180-98. (


 Hedlund, J.*, Cantoni, R.*, Baltscheffsky, M., Baltscheffsky, H., Persson, B. “Analysis of ancient sequence motifs in the H+-PPase family”. FEBS Letters 273 (2006): 5183-93. (


* these authors have equally contributed to the paper.


Book chapters


Cantoni Roberto, Aleksandra Lis and Agata Stasik, “Creating and debating energy citizenship: the case of Poland’s shale gas.” In Energy, Resource Extraction and Society: Impacts and Contested Futures, edited by Anna Szolucha (book proposal accepted by Routledge, to appear in 2017-18)


 ___. “Debates at NATO and the EEC in Response to the Soviet “Oil Offensive” in the Early 1960s.” In Cold War Energy: A Transnational History of Soviet Oil and Gas, edited by Jeronim Perovic, 131-61. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. Translated into Italian as: “La CEE di fronte all’offensiva economica sovietica (1955-1965).” In Economic Warfare – Storia dell’arma economica, edited by Virgilio Ilaria and Giuseppe della Torre. Società Italiana di Storia Militare, Quaderno 2017: 317-30.


___, and Leucha Veneer. “Underwater and Underground: Gatekeeping Oil Exploration during the Cold War.” In The Surveillance Imperative: The Rise of the Geosciences during the Cold War, edited by Simone Turchetti and Peder Roberts, 45-66. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.


 Edited collections


Cantoni, Roberto, and Marta Musso (eds.), African energy policies: a general assessment / Les politiques énergétiques en Afrique : une évaluation générale”. Afrique contemporaine, to appear in early 2018.


Conference Proceedings and other publications


 Pélopidas, Benoît, Grey Anderson et Roberto Cantoni, ‘Les enjeux nucléaires du prochain mandat présidentiel.’ In Les Dossiers du CERI 04/2017, « Politique étrangère de la France : quels défis pour le prochain président de la République ? », edited by Christian Lequesne. Paris: Presses de Sciences Po, April 2017. 


Cantoni, Roberto. ‘Security and the environment: France, Poland, and the shale gas controversy’. In Les sociétés contemporaines à l’épreuve des transitions énergétiques. 2èmes Journées Internationales de Sociologie de l’Énergie, 337-9. Chambray-lès-Tours: Université François-Rabelais, 1-3 July 2015. 


Cantoni, Roberto. ‘“Naples? Garbage!” Epidemiological controversies in 21st century South Italy’. In Living in a Toxic World (1800-2000). Experts, activism, industry and regulation. 8th European Spring School on history of science and popularization. Maó (Menorca): Institut Menorquí d’Estudis, 14-16 May 2015.


Persson, Bengt, Roberto Cantoni, Margareta Baltscheffsky, and Herrick Baltscheffsky. “New evolutionary aspects of some old putative active site sequence motifs in H+-pyrophosphatases”. In Recent Advances in Inorganic Pyrophosphatase Research, edited by S. A. White. Birmingham: University of Birmingham, 29 June – 1 July 2004.


 Book reviews


Vaclav Smil, Energy and Civilization: A History. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017. Journal of Energy History (forthcoming). 


Gabrielle Hecht, Uranium africain, une histoire globale. Paris: Seuil, 2016. In Afrique contemporaine 258 (2017): 181-3 (DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.29868.67208).


Role in Tensions of Europe

Participant, Early Career Network

Research interests

Security, Energy, Waste and Reuse, Governance, Environment, Knowledge Networks

Additional research interests

philosophy of contemporary science, philosophy and sociology of time