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Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie

The German Journal of Economic Geography

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Volume 60, Issue 1-2


The petro-political configuration: entanglements of Western and Chinese oil zones in Niger

Jannik Schritt
  • Corresponding author
  • Jannik Schritt, Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology, Georg August University of Göttingen, Theaterplatz 15, 37073 Göttingen, Germany, e-mail: jschrit@uni-goettingen.de
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Published Online: 2016-06-15 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zfw-2015-0583


The article examines the spatial, economic, political and socio-cultural transformations induced in the process of Niger becoming a new oil producer in 2011. It does so by analyzing entanglements of Western and Chinese ‘oil zones’ in Niger, which are understood as trans-territorial spaces of assemblage. I argue that the specific properties of these two oil zones have triggered the emergence of a particular ‘petro-political configuration’ in Niger. The argument proceeds through four stages. Firstly, looking at economic entanglements, I argue that the Chinese oil zone enabled the Nigerien economy to develop so-called upstream and downstream oil industries, something the Western oil zone had not allowed. Secondly, analyzing political and socio-cultural entanglements, I argue that, by being co-opted into former Nigerien president Mamadou Tandja’s political project for constitutional amendment, China’s oil diplomacy has become a kind of ‘soft power’ in Niger, something Western political rhetoric has failed to achieve. Thirdly, focusing on geopolitical and military entanglements, I argue that the militarization of global space should ensure capitalist accumulation, especially in situations in which the translation of transnational governmentality has failed. Finally, I use these entanglements to identify the heterogeneous elements of Western and Chinese ‘oil zones’, and the specific capitalist properties these assemblages generate.

Keywords: : assemblage; China; infrastructure; oil; politics; Niger.


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About the article

Jannik Schritt

Jannik Schritt is a PhD researcher in a German Research Foundation (DFG) funded project on ‘Oil and Social Change in Niger and Chad’ at the Georg August University of Göttingen. He has published several articles on transnational governmentality, oil politics and protest movements in Niger.

Published Online: 2016-06-15

Published in Print: 2016-06-01

Citation Information: Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie, Volume 60, Issue 1-2, Pages 40–56, ISSN (Online) 2365-7693, ISSN (Print) 0044-3751, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zfw-2015-0583.

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