Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationGeorge Washington U.
Grant numberGr. 9474
Approve DateApril 25, 2017
Project TitleRodriguez-Delgado, Lara C., George Washington U., Washington, DC - To aid research on 'The Social Life of 'Frackquakes': Geology, Activism, and Governance in Oklahoma's Earthquakes Controversy,' supervised by Dr. Hugh Gusterson
LARA RODRIGUEZ-DELGADO, then a graduate student at George Washington University, Washington, DC, was awarded a grant in April 2017 to aid research on ‘The Social Life of ‘Frackquakes’: Geology, Activism, and Governance in Oklahoma’s Earthquakes Controversy,’ supervised by Dr. Hugh Gusterson. This project examines struggles to redefine the legacies and futures of energy extraction in Oklahoma in the context of public and technical controversies over the seismic risks of fracking. Participant observation and interviews were conducted among geoscientists, residents, activists, and state officials holding competing views on the alleged link between fracking and a recent, unprecedented upsurge in earthquakes. Such debates have tested both authoritative narratives of the imperative of fossil-energy innovation in Oklahoma and the limits of earthquake science itself. The study traces multiple constructions of causation, risk, and intervention, analyzes the practices and politics of expertise, probes the role of geological knowledge in social and political relations with contested landscapes, and tracks the emergence of grassroots activism. Findings underscore how novel geological disturbances are not only significant for the ways they challenge technoscientific and governmental action but also are integral to the everyday ways in which those exposed make sense of their histories and futures. The study contributes to understandings of the relationship between science, politics, environment, and society, illustrating the shifting role played by geoscientific communities who are today thrust into technopolitical controversies over the effects of the ‘shale revolution,’ and, in turn, on how their ideas and beliefs interact with the formation of activist and regulatory publics.