You are here

Seeing Like an Oil Producer: Abundance, Pollution, and Graphic Display

Dr. David McDermott Hughes, Professor of Anthropology, Rutgers University-New Brunswick
Monday, May 9, 2016 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
CMU 202

Oil comes packaged in a powerful, increasingly deadly jargon – and nowhere more so than in the petro-state of Trinidad and Tobago. Petroleum professionals speak of “upstream” and “downstream” as segments of an uninterruptible commodity chain. Such crustal-fluvial ideas took hold long before the science of climate change – even before the combustion of petroleum for mechanical purposes. This presentation explores three moments of consensus on the inevitability of hydrocarbon flows. I examine this discourse during a crisis, beginning in 2009, when Trinidad considered the depletion of its oil and gas reserves. The fluvial model made a course of action clear: discover more hydrocarbons and allow geo-economics to lift them. Trinidad’s leading independent oil producer designed and tested a means of injecting carbon dioxide into underground reservoirs to as to produce oil. This enhanced form of oil recovery sequestered carbon underground – for the good of the atmosphere –but ultimately expelled more into the atmosphere. The process appeared inevitable, even good for the environment. As a discourse then, the oilstream represents fossil fuels as unstoppable and irreplaceable – damn the consequences!

Sponsored by:
University of Washington Department of Anthropology, Department of Geography, Comparative History of Ideas Program, and Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program

To request disability accommodation, contact the Disability Services Office at least ten days in advance at 206.543.6450 / V, 206.543.6452 / TTY, 206.685.7264 / FAX, or e-mail at dso@uw.edu

Share