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Accepted Paper:

“The Person to Die is the One Living Here:” Anticipating Oil in the Global South  
Anselm Kizza-Besigye

Paper Short Abstract:

The temporalities of extraction are making themselves felt in Uganda. What does it mean to stake an uncertain future on the sedimented remains of the past? In a time of energy transitions, what does a liveable future look like from a resource frontier in the Global South?

Paper Abstract:

As Uganda prepares to become Africa’s newest oil exporter, the anticipation of oil revenues and their attendant risks and promises are already reorienting Ugandans toward their pasts and imagined futures. Oil wealth promises to address dependence, precarity, and underdevelopment, shoring up Uganda’s undermined sovereignty. Yet, extraction poses ecological and social risks, rooted in histories of abandonment, dispossession, and authoritarianism. Meanwhile, there’s a sense that Uganda’s oil is belated, arriving, as it does, many decades after its discovery, in the era of “green” or “just" transitions. Drawing on the literature on the promises of oil (Adunbi, 2015; Gledhill, 2008; Apter, 2005; Coronil, 1997) and resource temporalities (Barlow, 2023; Weszkalnys, 2016; Limbert, 2010), this paper will argue that the anticipation of oil is remaking past and future in Uganda and other new oil frontiers in the Global South. In a bleak time, when the future seems foreclosed and millenarian faiths have gone mainstream, a doubtful hope appears on the receding horizon of a burning planet. In the present, the ground must be readied if this dream is to become reality. However, this entails an investment in the past, both as the source of claims to the benefits of extraction–nationally and within the oil-exporting Albertine region–and as the realm of wounds and historical grievances. In thinking through these temporalities, I will consider the perverse backwardness of energy transitions, whose dirty work is going on in the Global South–along new resource frontiers and in the equally extractive zones of conservation and carbon offsetting.

Panel P217
Life after oil? Undoing the contradictions of the energy transition [Environmental Anthropology Network (EAN)]
  Session 1 Wednesday 24 July, 2024, -