Clashing capitalisms: negotiating oil zones in Niger and Uganda
Annika Witte (University of Goettingen)
Jannik Schritt (Institut für Ethnologie)
Paper short abstract:
This paper looks at reactions by communities affected by large-scale oil-related infrastructural developments in Uganda and Niger through the lens of “clashing scales”. We analyze the conflicts that evolved around the standardizing processes of oil zones as a form of clashing capitalisms.
Paper long abstract:
This paper analyzes reactions by communities affected by large-scale oil-related infrastructural developments in Uganda and Niger through the lens of "clashing scales". Comparing our cases we show how extractive communities engaged the oil companies in negotiations over their access to the industry. We show how the oil companies' way of doing business through disentanglement - the work to detach them from the wider environments within which they operate - was opposed by forces in the extracting countries that all aim in one way or the other at creating linkages with the oil industry. We look at how actors negotiated standardizing processes of a technological zone around the oil. In Niger, all kind of actors contested inequality in or even the lack of standards in the Chinese oil industry. In Uganda, by contrast, local entrepreneurs objected to the multinational oil companies' insistence on international health and safety standards. The tensions are not following a universal script of local communities vs. big oil but rather are situated in large-scale processes of different capitalisms. Based on our cases, we argue that considering clashing capitalisms as an element of clashing scales, offers a fruitful perspective to understand how new infrastructural developments are negotiated at the formative moment of new oil zones.
Clashing scales of infrastructural development