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Crafting Spaces of Value

Infrastructure, Technologies of Extraction and Contested Oil in Nigeria

Omolade Adunbi

In 2011, Nigeria announced an amnesty programme targeted at Niger Delta insurgents who, for many years, had crippled the oil industry. The programme was designed to end in 2012, but it has since become a permanent feature of the Nigerian state

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Creative Encounters

African Trade and Chinese Oil Production in Western Chad

Nikolaus Schareika

During the last two decades, studies of oil have proliferated within the social sciences. Much of this literature demonstrates the impact of oil rents on developing countries such as Nigeria, Gabon, or Venezuela ( Kaldor et al. 2007 ; Karl 1997

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Andrea Behrends

The area around the border of Sudan and Chad, where Darfur lies, has been an unimportant and unknown backwater throughout history. Today, however, Darfur is all over the international press. Everybody knows about the grim war there. There is no oil currently in production in Darfur. However, there is oil in the south of neighboring Chad and in Southern Sudan, and there might be oil in Darfur. This article considers a case of fighting for oil when there is no oil yet. It takes into account the role of local actors doing the fighting, that is, the army, rebels, and militias; national actors such as the Sudanese and Chadian governments; and international actors, such as multinational oil companies, the United States, China, and the United Nations. It explains how oil can have disintegrative consequences even when it is still only a rumor about a future possibility.

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The Devil’s Money

A Multi-level Approach to Acceleration and Turbulence in Oil-Producing Southern Chad

Andrea Behrends and Remadji Hoinathy

This article takes a multi-level approach to analyzing the effects of oil production in southern Chad. A multi-level analysis combines the international level of policy making in regard to oil production in Chad with the national level of land

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Blood oil

The anatomy of a petro-insurgency in the Niger delta

Michael Watts

This article traces the emergence of an “oil insurgency” in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. A key concept deployed in the analysis is the oil complex, understood as a sort of corporate enclave economy and also a center of political and economic calculation expressed through the operations of a set of local, national, and transnational forces that can only be dubbed as imperial oil. The operations of the oil complex under conditions of U.S. military neoliberalism create the violent and unstable spaces that David Harvey identifies as “accumulation by dispossession”. The insurgency is understood in terms of a deep history of political and economic marginalization and deepening political mobilization and militancy within the Niger Delta. What the oil complex has thereby produced is a fragmented polity with parcellized sovereignty rather than a robust, modern oil nation.

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Social Lives and Symbolic Capital

Indigenous ‘Oil Lawsuits’ as Sites of Order and Disorder Making

Veronica Davidov

and imaginaries they challenge, and their potential for ordering and disordering social fabrics outside or beyond the legal arena. This article takes as its case studies two lawsuits brought by indigenous communities in a dispute involving oil

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The crazy curse and crude domination

Toward an anthropology of oil

Stephen Reyna and Andrea Behrends

Oil has turned out to be something of a curse. Most developing petrostates have found that their economies have worsened, their political regimes have become more authoritarian, and their conflicts have intensified. Further, this curse is a bit crazy because oil brings wealth, which would seem to bring peace and prosperity, not the trouble that so often accompanies it. The goal of this introduction is to propose a research strategy for the anthropological analysis of oil. It does so by examining existing oil literatures, discussing the implications for research arising from the articles contained here, and, finally, formulating an anthropology of oil in a turbulent world. This formulation proposes a 'crude domination' approach to explain oil's crazy curse.

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The Traveling Model That Would Not Travel

Oil, Empire, and Patrimonialism in Contemporary Chad

Stephen P. Reyna

This article concerns a type of change involving implementation of 'traveling models'—procedural cultural plans of how to do some-thing done somewhere elsewhere. Specifically, it concerns the World Bank's traveling model of oil revenue distribution in support of Chadian development. It finds that this model is failing and that dystopia is developing in its stead. A contrasting explanation, which examines the contradictions and consequences of Chadian patrimonialism and US imperialism, is proposed to account for this state of affairs. Finally, the analysis is shown to have implications for conceptualizing patrimonialism and planning development.

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Organized criminals, human rights defenders, and oil companies

Weaponization of the RICO Act across jurisdictional borders

Lindsay Ofrias and Gordon Roecker

This article examines how the world’s arguably largest oil disaster, in the heart of Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest, has become a testing ground for new global forms of corporate power and the criminalization of dissent. Following the ongoing “trial of the century” between Chevron Corporation and plaintiffs representing tens of thousands of smallholder farmers and indigenous people affected by the disaster, we look at how the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act has been applied against the affected people and their lawyers to sidestep the norm of international comity and alter the parameters for pursuing environmental justice. Specifically, we point to how the case—and a new crop of cases following suit—has threatened to criminalize the use of “lawfare” as a “weapon of the weak.”

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Michael Bradshaw

The spring of 2003 saw a number of key announcements relating to the Sakhalin oil and gas projects. After considerable speculation, the Sakhalin Energy Investment Company announced that it was to go ahead with a $10 billion investment to construct Russia's first liquefied natural gas plant to export gas to Northeast Asia. This article examines the wider context of Russia's potential as an oil and gas supplier to Northeast Asia. It considers the prospects for the numerous gas pipeline projects that are being proposed. It then focuses in detail on the prospects for oil and gas development offshore of Sakhalin. The background to the current projects is presented and the composition and current status of the major projects reviewed. The article then examines the processes that are helping to shape the projects and places Sakhalin with the wider debate of the impact of globalisation upon Russia's economic transformation. The paper concludes by assessing the prospects for the future.