Omolade Adunbi

Omolade Adunbi, Associate Professor, Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Omolade is a political anthropologist and an Associate Professor at the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS), Faculty Associate, Program in the Environment (Pite), Faculty Associate, Donia Human Rights Center (DHRC) at The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His areas of research explore issues related to resource distribution, natural resource extraction, governance, human and environmental rights, power, culture, transnational institutions, multinational corporations and the postcolonial state. His latest book, Oil Wealth and Insurgency in Nigeria (Indiana University Press, 2015) addresses issues related to oil wealth, multinational corporations, transnational institutions, NGOs and violence in oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria. His current research focuses on the interconnection between special economic zones and oil.

Paper Title: “‘We Own This Oil’: Artisanal Refineries, Extractive Industries and the Politics of Oil in Nigeria”

Paper Abstract: This paper investigates the rise of artisanal oil refining industry in the Niger Delta, Nigeria. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the summers of 2015 and 2016, the paper shows how such refineries is not only representative of many of such refineries that litter the creeks of the Niger Delta but tells the story of how oil infrastructures have become a contested field between the state, multinational oil and local youths in Nigeria. The paper further suggests that the politics of crude oil governance reveal complex, integrated, and innovative forms of extractive practices by youth groups within many Niger Delta communities. The paper asks for example: how does artisanal processes and structures of extraction reflect innovation and hybrid forms of knowledge? How might technologies of ogogoro (local gin) production, made popular by youth in the 1930s, help understand today’s extractive practices in the oil enclave of the Delta?  How do the technologies of crude refining reshape extractive practices in resource enclaves of the Delta? How is it that state structures of extraction compete with artisanal refining of crude oil in the Niger Delta? Therefore, I argue that a cursory look at the history of other forms of extraction in Nigeria provides the useful lens within which to see how artisanal refining of oil is reshaping livelihoods, community relations and governance in Nigeria.

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