Extractive Politics

Description

This module offers students a critical understanding of recent changes in the political geographies of resource extraction in response to growing concerns over the scarcity, security and social desirability of fossil fuels and key mineral resources. Using a variety of social science perspectives, the course examines key scientific and political controversies around the ideas of ‘peak oil’ and ‘resource curse’, and the associated development of new kinds of extractive resources, technologies and infrastructures, such as unconventional fossil fuels and deep-sea mining.

We will explore how these controversies not just reconfigure the political economies of the producing states, but also operate as catalysts for wider social changes and public resistance. In this context, we will also examine a range of case studies of very recent grassroots protests across the world: from ‘anti-fracking’ campaigns to pipeline protests such as #NODAPL, to the fossil fuel divestment movement and other forms of post-carbon democracy. Through lectures, seminars and independent work, students will thus acquire a critical perspective on some of the most topical and challenging issues faced by the contemporary world.

By the end of the module students should be able to:

  • Think critically about recent developments in resource-based economies and politics
  • Debate complex and contentious issues based on both academic and grey literature
  • Critically examine and contextualize social science perspectives to real-world problems
  • Develop individual research and writing skills

Assessment

  • 4000 words written project (extended essay) on a chosen case study of contemporary extractive politics, which will contain both literature review and an element of independent desk-based research. Topics for these projects will be discussed and confirmed on individual basis with the module leader beforehand, during drop-in hours.