Creative Encounters

African Trade and Chinese Oil Production in Western Chad

in Social Analysis
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  • 1 Institut für Ethnologie nschare@gwdg.de
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Abstract

The oil industry tends to remain disconnected from local realities surrounding production sites, a situation that can be explained by theories of enclaving and technological zones. Despite these barriers, local people try to connect to and profit from oil projects that are set up in their vicinity. This article explores the relationships between a Chadian merchant, who started as a worker in the oil fields, his suppliers of goods and credit, and a Chinese oil company. The analysis focuses on the improvisation that the merchant and his Chinese clients undertook in order to develop trade in a difficult supply situation. The African system of trade enabled the Chinese company to overcome challenges to its project, while helping the merchant convert oil money into commercial capital.

Contributor Notes

Nikolaus Schareika is a Professor of Social Anthropology at the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Goettingen. He is currently running a research project on technologies, signification, and processes of creative adaption in relation to oil production in Niger and Chad. Further fields of interest and research are pastoral nomads, processes of negotiation and conflict, the analysis of talk as dynamic social interaction, human-environmental relations, and local knowledge. Extensive fieldwork has mainly concentrated on Niger (particularly with Fulani people), but his research also covers other West African countries, such as Benin, Burkina Faso, and Chad.

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology

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