African Studies Review

Oil and the Production of Competing Subjectivities in Nigeria: “Platforms of Possibilities” and “Pipelines of Conflict”

Omolade Adunbi


This article examines how multinational corporations, recognizing the symbolic value of oil pipelines, flow stations, and platforms as ancestral promises of wealth to subject populations, work with NGOs and communities (sometimes in collaboration with the latter, but sometimes in a more adversarial manner) in setting up governance structures that often compete with, and sometimes oppose, the state in struggles over territorial control and resource extraction. These forms of contestations, it argues, create new sites of power in which NGOs aid multinational oil corporations in negotiating new sites of governance that in themselves create new structures of power.


Cet article examine comment des sociétés multinationales, reconnaissant la valeur symbolique des oléoducs, des stations d'écoulement et des plateformes comme des promesses ancestrales d'enrichissement pour les populations locales, creent des partenariats avec des communes et ONG pour mettre en place des structures de gouvernement qui rivalisent, et parfois s'opposent à l'état, dans les luttes pour le contrôle du territoire et l'extraction des ressources. Ces formes de contestation, selon nous, créent des nouvelles zones de pouvoir dans lesquelles les ONG aident les sociétés multinationales du pétrole à négocier des nouvelles zones de gouvernement, qui en elles-mêmes, créent des nouvelles structures de pouvoir.

Omolade Adunbi is a political anthropologist and an assistant professor in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (DAAS) and a faculty associate in the Program in the Environment (PITE) at the University of Michigan. His current work focuses on the oil-rich communities of the Niger Delta region where he examines the connection between oil wealth and power, and transnational capital and civil society organizations and their collaborations with NGOs and members of the local communities. E-mail: [email protected].