Accepted Paper:

Geological, Material, and Political Temporalities in Turkey's Hydrocarbon Exploration Efforts  

Author:

Zeynep Oguz (Northwestern University)

Paper short abstract:

Analyzing state-led shale oil exploration practices and geological narratives in central Anatolia, this paper examines how potential presence of hydrocarbon reserves in Turkey has been transforming the land and the sea into force fields of competing futures.

Paper long abstract:

What are rocks under the ground and the sea? What kinds of futures and pasts do they conjure up? This paper examines the ways in which the potential presence of hydrocarbon reserves in Turkey has been transforming the land and the sea into force fields of competing modes of anticipation over the future. I trace the government's recent hydrocarbon exploration practices that take place on the backdrop of Turkey's contemporary carbon-intensive energy politics. In the past twenty years, Turkey has intensified its efforts for maximizing its use of national hydrocarbon reserves in Central Anatolia, the Black Sea, and the contested maritime zones of the Mediterranean Sea, in the name of energy independency, socio-economic progress, and geopolitical power. In tracing the transformation of the land and the sea into national spaces of "resource potentiality" (Weszkalnys 2015), I examine the entanglements of infrastructures, geological cosmologies, techno-scientific practices of exploration and surveying, bureaucratic and material politics, and contested futures in the offices and laboratories of the state-owned Mineral Exploration and Research Institute (MTA) and exploratory drilling sites. In their blurring the boundaries between the economic, the scientific, and the aesthetic, I argue that MTA's geologists' everyday interactions with earthly materials in the field engender alternative realities about the materiality and temporality of hydrocarbons, the sea, and the land. Such enactments frame 30-million year-old rocks as resources and potential reserves, but also as earthly archives of geological and biological history that often "transcend" the scales and temporalities of the nation.

Panel T126
Science and Technology in the Middle East: Life Sciences and Environments