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The Michigan Anthropology Colloquia Series

"The Petro-State Masquerade" by Ryan Cecil Jobson
Friday, February 17, 2023
3:00-4:30 PM
411 West Hall Map
The Department of Anthropology proudly presents

Michigan Anthropology Colloquia Series

"The Petro-State Masquerade:
Oil and Sovereignty in Trinidad and Tobago"

By Ryan Cecil Jobson
Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Anthropology
University of Chicago

In-person and virtual
3:00 - 4:30 PM
West Hall, Room 411

“The Petro-State Masquerade” considers how postcolonial political futures in the Caribbean nation-state of Trinidad and Tobago came to be staked to the market futures of oil, natural gas, and their petrochemical derivatives.

Drawing on archival and ethnographic research, Jobson theorizes how the tenuous relationship between oil and political power—enshrined in the hyphenated form of the petro-state—is represented by postcolonial state officials as a Carnivalesque “masquerade of permanence” through the perpetual expansion of fossil fuel ventures. At the same time, low oil and gas prices, diminishing reserves, and renewable energy innovations threaten the viability of the Trinbagonian energy sector. In turn, Jobson examines the turn to offshore exploration in the deepwater sector beginning in 1998.

Characterized by protracted production cycles, deepwater ventures feature prohibitive costs and a comparatively low probability of success. After several deepwater ventures failed to yield substantive commercial quantities of oil or gas, the unfulfilled potential of a lucrative offshore geology is invoked to mitigate uncertainty and secure the long-term viability of the Trinbagonian energy sector. In their masquerade, state officials depict fossil fuels as inexhaustible resources waiting to be unearthed by multinational capital and novel extractive technologies.
Building: West Hall
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: AEM Featured, Anthropology, Free
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Department of Anthropology