CAPITAL(ISM(S)) Series: Dr. Ryan Jobson, "Deepwater Sovereignty, or, the Political Theology of the Petrostate."
Penn Museum Rm 345, Lunch will be served
The Department of Anthropology Colloquium for 2018-2019 "Capital(ism(s))" is co-sponsored by the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities
Ryan Jobson (University of Chicago), "Deepwater Sovereignty, or, the Political Theology of the Petrostate."
The Caribbean island of Trinidad is one of the world’s oldest petroleum frontiers. While commercial oil production in Trinidad began in 1908, the oil boom of 1973 generated state investments in refining, petrochemical, and steel development that promised to uplift a multiracial populace from colonial histories of plantation slavery and indenture. Depressed commodity markets in the 1980s, however, plunged the national economy into recession and caused the Trinbagonian government to divest of state industrial assets. At present, state officials court multinational investment in deepwater frontiers to supply downstream industries and revive a declining energy sector. Characterized by massive costs and protracted production cycles, deepwater extractive ventures feature an especially low probability of success. At the same time, the sovereign futures of the postcolonial state are secured through speculative forecasts of deepwater production. Drawing on archival materials and ethnographic research with energy bureaucrats, engineers, and corporate executives, “Deepwater Sovereignty” theorizes a shift from a postcolonial optimism in the creole nationalist state to a valorization of speculation and risk as hallmarks of governance in the contemporary.