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
Preliminary abstract: Over the past few years, ‘Fracking’ has been at the center of heated national debates over its alleged hazardous effects on drinking water and air. Today, in Oklahoma, a new controversy has arisen. The proliferation of fracking activities coincides with an unprecedented number of earthquakes that are altering a region with no modern history of seismic vulnerability. While a cluster of geologists that have been tasked with formulating responses cannot yet explain how human activity can generate or mitigate earthquakes in Oklahoma, resident-activist groups are endeavoring to marshal their own scientific facts, convinced that fracking is the cause. Attentive to these processes of knowledge production and contestation, this ethnographic project follows different communities of geologists and resident-activists to investigate how the enigmatic causes and risks of human-induced seismicity are conceptualized and depicted as objects of knowledge and policy during a public controversy that has political, scientific, and cultural ramifications. By mapping this controversy from its infancy, I contextualize the politics of knowledge in conditions of social and scientific uncertainty where research is under multiple pressures. In the process, my research transcends the single-location focus of works in the anthropology of science and science and technology studies by attending to the ontological negotiations involved in the social resolution of uncertainties, adds to ethnographies of science by providing the first in-depth ethnographic account of geological science-in-the making, and builds on anthropological critiques of the social impacts of climate change governance to examine the role of emergent environmental and scientific discourses in shaping new forms of power.