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On the Banality of Willful Blindness: Ignorance and Affect in Extractive Encounters

Bovensiepen, Judith M. (2019) On the Banality of Willful Blindness: Ignorance and Affect in Extractive Encounters. Critique of Anthropology, . ISSN 0308-275X. E-ISSN 1460-3721. (In press) (KAR id:75612)

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Research on strategic ignorance tends to focus on the deliberate manufacture of non-knowledge as a tool of governance. In contrast, this article highlights the ‘banal’ workings of willful blindness, how it can become a normalised part of corporate routine. It examines the diverse dynamics of willful blindness that became visible in the planning and implementation of a mega-oil development project in Timor-Leste, including spatial distancing, denial of moral implications, and the production of effervescent moments of collective solidarity. It concludes that affective states are key in the normalisation of willful blindness, which operates at the unstable boundary between intention and affect. An emphasis on willful blindness helps us to bridge the gap between political economy approaches that emphasise the disruptive impact on resource abundance, on the one hand, and anthropological approaches that highlight the social logics and ethical evaluations of main actors involved, on the other.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Judith Bovensiepen
Date Deposited: 30 Jul 2019 08:25 UTC
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2020 12:07 UTC
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