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Crude Politics: Oil Talk, New Media and Political Scripts in the Production of Disorder in Zinder (Niger)

Jannik Schritt (U Göttingen, Germany)
Publication Date 2016
Publication SPP Working Paper No. 17
Publisher DFG Priority Programme (SPP 1448): "Adaptation and Creativity in Africa"
Language English
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Summary:
The SPP Working Paper No. 17 by Jannik Schritt (U Göttingen, Germany) focuses through a situational analysis on the public political debate about oil in Niger’s media landscape before, during, and after the oil refinery’s inauguration ceremony in Zinder in late 2011.


Abstract:
The nascency of an oil state is characterized by talking oil politics. In this oil talk, the travelling idea of the resource curse takes center stage in speech acts of naming, blaming and claiming to question the legitimacy of political opponents. Conducting a situational analysis, this article focuses on the public political debate about oil in Niger’s media landscape before, during and after the oil refinery’s inauguration ceremony in Zinder in late 2011. I situate the actors’ oil talk according to their positions in the political arena to reveal their hidden transcripts. By doing so, I will show that the oil talk is enacted in a double sense. First, it is the political actors’ scripts that shape the very articulation of their oil talk in a context of political competition in a multi-party system. Second, the oil talk is enacted through an actor-network of media technologies and political players’ access privileges that allow some to articulate their political views whereas others lack the means to do so. I use these findings to discuss the impact of new media in Nigerien politics and to decode the “how” of Nigerien politics itself.

Biographical Note:
Jannik Schritt (U Göttingen, Germany), research associate at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology (U Göttingen, Germany), conducts research on ethnology of politics, the state, and development, as well as petroleum and globalization focusing on Niger. His PhD thesis supervised by Prof. Nikolaus Schareika (U Göttingen, Germany) is financed by the German Research Foundation research project “Significations of Oil and Social Change in Niger and Chad”.