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Can oil speak? On the production of ontological difference and ambivalence in extractive encounters

Bovensiepen, Judith M. (2021) Can oil speak? On the production of ontological difference and ambivalence in extractive encounters. Anthropological Quarterly, 94 (1). pp. 33-63. ISSN 0003-5491. (doi:10.1353/anq.2021.0013) (KAR id:80581)


Two disparate views emerge as rural people living along Timor-Leste’s south coast are confronted by extractive industries charged with implementing a large oil infrastructure project: emphasis is put either on the productive potential of the non-human environment or on the spiritual connections with particular sites. Whilst political ontology approaches posit that resource conflicts reveal underlying ontological differences between animism and naturalism, this article shows how differences are in fact produced by extractive encounters. Resource extraction promotes the articulation of clear-cut positions, thereby displacing more ambivalent relations with the inhabited environment. The ontological multiplicity of East Timorese origin accounts challenges the analytical prioritization of difference in political ontology and provides a model for attending to multivocality, ambiguity and political context.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1353/anq.2021.0013
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Judith Bovensiepen
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2020 12:23 UTC
Last Modified: 31 Jan 2023 09:28 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Bovensiepen, Judith M..

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