Event Details

This is a past event

Citizenship in Oil-Producing Societies


Workshop (to prepare for conference)

Click HERE for the workshop programme.

In preparation for a conference later in the year, we will hold a workshop to focus on how citizenship plays out in the context of oil-producing societies.

We take as our starting point a belief that the "resource curse" is a grossly inadequate account of oil-producing societies around the world. Instead we will treat oil-producing societies as places in which searching questions are posed about the modern polity. Whilst violence, civil war and displacement remain common outcomes of disputes over hydrocarbons, in also recognising the democratic necessity of bargaining, protest and sometimes militant action to gain a share of oil rents and a sense of resource sovereignty the project argues that contestation is an important part of all "flammable" societies i.e. of oil and gas rich regions and countries. As such, conflictis not necessarily a sign of instability, or failure and fragility as commonly characterised in existing resource curse literature, but rather an important and often necessary route to lasting solutions. These paths, both analytically and in political action, challenge the conventions of "governmentality" and despite their dangers and ambiguities they can lead to improvement in the basis and operation of resource management. As such we argue that policies for resource management must be more inclusive and promote open discussions of how the common good has been articulated historically and how it may be realised in contemporary contexts. Our question is, then: What can we learn from oil societies - characterized by disputes over control of relatively unpredictable sources of capital accumulation - about the potential and limits of key concepts of modern polity?

We focus on citizenship as a key concept of the modern polity. Instead of asking how citizenship suffers from the resource curse, we will ask what possibilities are thrown up for citizenship in oil-producing societies. That includes looking at a full range of societies, from Norway in which there is high public confidence in government to Venezuela in which oil sovereignty has been used to mobilize opposition.

The programme is attached. During the day we will:

  • respond to a number of presentations, including of the Flammable Societies book that will be published in January
  • develop plans for the conference later in the year, which will include academic and non-academic partners

A sandwich lunch will be provided, as well as tea, coffee and biscuits in the morning and afternoon.

Please email Louise Harkins (l.harkins@abdn.ac.uk) with any queries and to confirm your attendance.

The workshop is co-hosted by CISRUL with Flammable Societies, a multidisciplinary project focused on the social politics -specifically the developmental and environmental consequences- of the oil and gas industry in the promotion of poverty reduction and social volatility, funded for three years by the Norwegian Research Council.


Hosted by: University of Aberdeen

Venue: Commitee Room 2, University Offices


Louise Harkins (l.harkins@abdn.ac.uk)

In This Section

Browse or Search Archive