Beyond the resource curse and pipeline conspiracies: energy as a social relation in the Middle East
The Middle East is conventionally viewed as the area of ‘Resource Curses’ and ‘Rentier States’ drawing negative implications for the relationship between nature and humanity. This paper will challenge this conventional wisdom. By identifying the identification of non-Western resource extraction and use with socially and environmentally degenerative human practices, the mainstream literature reproduces an orientalist narrative of the post-colonial Middle East as at the same time pristine nature and the core resource base of Western economic activity, which should not be left to the natives. Using and developing a ‘Geo Political Ecology’ and ‘Social Energy Relations’ approach, the current argument develops a more optimistic vision. The paper identifies the competitive, militarised modern post-colonial state building projects and the global hydro-carbon economy as the historical causes of the ‘curse’ before developing an argument about the origins of the ‘curse’ before problematising non-deterministic social-ecological alternative forms of energy and environmental governance.
Dr Clemens Hoffmann
Lecturer, International Politics