Department of Geography

Past events

Resource Nationalism in Bangladesh: Valuing National Natures and Politicising Geology

Wednesday 23 May 12:00 until 13:00
Arts C133
Speaker: Dr Paul Gilbert
Part of the series: Geography Department Research Seminars

Chair: Divya P. Tolia-Kelly


In this paper, I examine faultlines that emerged among a group of professional geologists and petroleum engineers based in Dhaka, in the wake of a series of blowouts in a gas field operated by a Niko, a Canadian exploration firm. Extractive experts sympathetic to Niko framed the blowouts as accidents that absolved Niko of accountability. Drawing on a globalizing extractive industry discourse, they described their opponents as ‘resource nationalists’ animated by a self-serving politics equivalent to that of putative resource nationalists in Latin America. Those experts mobilising to demand compensation from Niko, however, generated valuations of the loss caused to the nation’s resource base that relied on residues of the ‘Third World Jurist’s project’ that are embedded in Bangladesh’s constitution. (This project centred on newly independent post-colonial nations’ efforts to assert Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources and thus the right to renegotiate contracts that turned out to be unfavourable; one of the key figures in the Third World Jurist’s project, Kamal Hossain, authored Bangladesh’s constitution and first oil and gas Production Sharing Agreement.) Engaging with recent geographical work on ‘political geologies’, this paper examines how geological and engineering expertise is used to contest the feasibility and desirability of national resource and energy futures. 

ALL WELCOME (Coffee/ tea and cake is provided)

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By: Martin Wingfield
Last updated: Tuesday, 15 May 2018