Oil, life, and the fetishism of geopolitics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Oil can automatically generate wealth and conflict because of its centrality to industrial capitalist life. Because of oil's power, access to and control over petroleum reserves is framed as a matter of grave concern for geopolitical elites and the intellectuals of statecraft. Through a geopolitical optic, oil is envisioned as a vital and strategic thing through which imperial relations are solidified, (petro) states are formed, and local livelihoods are violently destabilized. People need to begin to see oil, in particular, and energy more broadly as a struggle over the production and reproduction of life. Moving beyond oil fetishism means constructing imaginaries through which oil is not an addictive thing that people are helpless to control, but rather, a contingent and historically situated socioecological relationship that is prone to contestation and transformation toward a post-petroleum future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-48
Number of pages17
JournalCapitalism, Nature, Socialism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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