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Crude Domination: An Anthropology of Oil

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Volume 9


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Crude Domination

An Anthropology of Oil

Edited by Andrea Behrends, Stephen P. Reyna, and Günther Schlee

334 pages, 7 figures & tables, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-255-9 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (October 2011)

ISBN  978-1-78238-035-1 $34.95/£27.95 Pb Published (April 2013)

eISBN 978-0-85745-256-6 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $34.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


This book is chiefly valuable for the nuanced, in-depth reporting of the cases, especially the violent ones. Valuable for scholars of resource conflict, and necessary reading for anyone deeply researching oil politics.  ·  Choice

"Here is anthropology at its critical and relevant best. Nothing could be more topical than the role of oil in contemporary global turmoil and “the crazy curse” that it casts over all manner of human endeavour and hope. The essays in this important book offer major insights into the heart of the crisis of capital and the local cultural phantasmagoria expressing its cruel paradoxes. The ethnographic analyses expand important arguments in other disciplines (especially economics and political science) and demonstrate the valuable necessity of anthropological perspectives. This is a must read for anthropologists and those in other disciplines who are concerned with the dynamics of global power as this is exposed in the struggle over the control of scarce resources and its tragic human effects."  ·  Bruce Kapferer, University of Bergen


Crude Domination is an innovative and important book about a critical topic – oil. While there have been numerous works about petroleum from ‘experience-far’ perspectives, there have been relatively few that have turned the ‘experience-near’ ethnographic gaze of anthropology on the topic. Crude Domination does just this among more peoples and more places than any other volume. Its chapters investigate nuances of culture, politics and economics in Africa, Latin America, and Eurasia as they pertain to petroleum. They wrestle with the key questions vexing scholars and practitioners alike: problems of the economic blight of the resource curse, underdevelopment, democracy, violence and war. Additionally they address topics that may initially appear insignificant – such as child witches and lionmen, fighting for oil when there is no oil, reindeer nomadism, community TV – but which turn out on closer scrutiny to be vital for explaining conflict and transformation in petro-states. Based upon these rich, new worlds of information, the text formulates a novel, domination approach to the social analysis of oil.

Andrea Behrends is an Assistant Professor in Anthropology at the University of Halle-Wittenberg and former Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology.

Stephen Reyna is a Researcher at the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute of the University of Manchester, UK as well as a Research Associate at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology.

Günther Schlee is a Director of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. He is author of How Enemies are Made and Identities on the Move among other books. 

Subject: Peace and Conflict Studies Anthropology (General)
Area: Africa Latin America and the Caribbean Central/Eastern Europe


List of Figures


Chapter 1. The Crazy Curse and Crude Domination: Towards an Anthropology of Oil
Stephen Reyna and Andrea Behrends

Chapter 2. Oiling the Race to the Bottom
Jonathan Friedman


Chapter 3. Blood Oil: The Anatomy of a Petro-Insurgency in the Niger Delta, Nigeria
Michael Watts

Chapter 4. Fighting for oil when there is no oil yet – The Darfur-Chad border
Andrea Behrends

Chapter 5. Elfs and Witches: Oil Cleptocrats and the Destruction of Social Order in Congo-Brazzaville
Kajsa Ekholm Friedman

Chapter 6. Constituting Domination/Constructing Monsters:Imperialism, Cultural Desire, and anti-Beowulfs in the Chadian Petro-state
Stephen P. Reyna


Chapter 7. The Persistent Imaginary of ‘the People's Oil’: Nationalism, Globalisation and the Possibility of Another Country in Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela
John Gledhill

Chapter 8.“Now That the Petroleum is Ours:” Community Media, State Spectacle, and Oil Nationalism in Venezuela
Naomi Schiller

Chapter 9. Flashpoints of Sovereignty: Territorial Conflict and Natural Gas in Bolivia
Bret Gustafson


Chapter 10. Oil Without Conflict? The Anthropology of Industrialisation in Northern Russia
Florian Stammler

Chapter 11. ‘Against… Domination’: Oil and War in Chechnya
Galina Khizrieva and Stephen P. Reyna

Afterword Suggestions for a Second Reading: An Alternative Perspective on Contested Resources as an Explanation for Conflict
Günther Schlee

Notes on Contributors

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