Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology and The Ethnographic Collection

Abstract of Research Project

Oil, Power and Politics in Niger

The role of Africa's oil is constantly rising in the world economy due to shrinking oil reserves in the Middle East and the increased energy appetite of developing countries, especially China. Within this process, the Republic of Niger has become a new oil producer in 2011. The research project takes this historical conjuncture as a unique opportunity to study socio-political transformation processes in real time. It applies synchronic methods of long term fieldwork that allow for detailed analysis of processes in the making, especially the observation of interactions and interactive communication. The main focus is on the local political dynamics in Zinder (East Niger) that are triggered by oil production. It explores interactions between different political actors and actor groups such as civil society associations, politicians, rich businessmen, media and youth groups. It further focuses on social situations of interactive communication within these groups like civil society meetings or fada (tea circles). By looking at interactive communication, political economy perspectives on oil should be widened and considered - next to the monetary dimension of oil - from a perspective of ideology in order to understand how different political actors produce, reproduce and thereby convert significations of oil into tangible means of political engagement. This perspective is further extended in two ways: First, by examining the role of modern information and communication technologies within political interactions and second, by looking at the interdependence of the resources? materiality with political processes of realizing rights, aims and claims.