Zeynep Oguz

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Lausanne, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10379

Approve Date

October 11, 2022

Project Title

Oguz, Zeynep (Lausanne, U. of) "Unsettling Grounds: Indeterminate Oil, State Power, and Earth Politics in Turkey"

Unsettling Grounds: Indeterminate Oil, State Power, and Earth Politics in Turkey is an examination of the various political projects that oil has informed in the oil-poor Republic of Turkey from the end of World War I to the present. Engaging with political and environmental anthropology, science and technology studies (STS), and environmental humanities, I explore how oil exploration and extraction have been central to nationalist mythmaking, military-colonial governance, and insurgency in Turkey’s Kurdish region, where oil is predominantly produced. I bring together my two-year (2015-2017) ethnographic research among petroleum geologists’ exploratory fieldtrips in war zones accompanied by paramilitary guards and military personnel, engineers’ everyday interactions with Kurdish villagers in oilfields with archival and media research, and oral histories of Kurdish activists and petroleum workers. I argue that as the Turkish state capitalizes on the geological by turning into an extractable resource and a spectacle for colonial control and territorial expansion, ordinary people continue to conspire with the indeterminacy of the Earth in order to compose contingent futures of political freedom. In doing so, I demonstrate that the earth is not a background, but a central, yet politically contingent element of modern colonial-military regimes, warfare, and insurgency.