Crude Domination: an anthropology of oil
Andrea Behrends, Stephen P. Reyna, and Günther Schlee (eds.)
New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books
Year of publication
Crude Domination is an innovative and important book about a critical topic – oil. While there have been numerous works about petroleum from ‘experience-far’ perspectives, there have been relatively few that have turned the ‘experience-near’ ethnographic gaze of anthropology on the topic. Crude Domination does just this among more peoples and more places than any other volume. Its chapters investigate nuances of culture, politics and economics in Africa, Latin America, and Eurasia as they pertain to petroleum. They wrestle with the key questions vexing scholars and practitioners alike: problems of the economic blight of the resource curse, underdevelopment, democracy, violence and war. Additionally they address topics that may initially appear insignificant – such as child witches and lionmen, fighting for oil when there is no oil, reindeer nomadism, community TV – but which turn out on closer scrutiny to be vital for explaining conflict and transformation in petro-states. Based upon these rich, new worlds of information, the text formulates a novel, domination approach to the social analysis of oil.