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Accepted Paper:

Hope and oil: managing the future in the Gulf of Guinea  
Gisa Weszkalnys (London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE))

Paper short abstract:

This paper critically examines expert attempts to manage the hopes that spring up in the context of an emergent oil economy in order to present a resource curse. Hopes, however, have histories; hopes persist; hopes spring up anew; and hopes also risk disappointment. So, what happens next?

Paper long abstract:

A dominant scholarly discourse now used to describe the profound crises triggered by natural resources - particularly oil - is the theory of the 'resource curse'. In this view, rather than bringing prosperity, resources pose a problem of governance. Institutions, transparency and a change in political culture are offered as solutions. Drawing on material from Sao Tome e Principe, a potentially oil-rich African island state, this paper critically inquires about the validity and power of such expert models as imagination of the future. STP has been converted into an economic experiment, exemplary among its oil-rich neighbours. In this process, Santomeans' hopes regarding oil became a key object of concern. Hopes are to be tamed to render them less dangerous. Hopes, however, have histories; hopes persist - beyond the moment of deconstruction; hopes spring up anew - as attempts to control people's expectations generate other kinds hopes. Hopes also risk disappointment. The question my research grapples with is: What happens next?

E-paper: this Paper will not be presented, but read in advance and discussed

Panel IW005
Imagination, crisis and hope, or, do futures have a future?