Extraction Ethnographies is the result of a collaboration between the Department of International Environment and Development Studies at NMBU, and the TIK Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture at the University of Oslo.

The course runs from 17 – 21 April 2023 with mandatory full attendance. Application deadline 28 February.

This course invites applications from PhD candidates interested in combining conceptual approaches with field-based research on extractive activities. This can encompass research on the mining of minerals or biological resources as well as on data mining: the extraction of materials, substances, information, and digital data from the geo- and biospheres.

The course will draw on a diverse body of scholarly work at the intersections of science and technology studies (STS), environmental anthropology and political ecology, and with a specific interest in decolonial theory, infrastructure and data studies, feminist technoscience studies and environmental humanities.

Scholars and participants will discuss the analytical and methodological possibilities of extraction ethnographies. With this concept we refer to research that focuses on processes of resource transformation, circulation and appropriation by connecting sites, following traces and empirically studying the politics of scales and scaling across cases in the Global South and North.

We revisit multilocal ethnography with a focus on the infrastructures of extractive industries, from oil platforms and pipelines, mining excavation sites and transport routes, to legal infrastructures tied to long-standing court cases, as well as digital infrastructures such as global data bases for sequence data such as GeneBank. Additionally, the course will attend to the visions, enchantments and promises of future wealth, as well as the ruins, costs and debris of modernization.

Extraction ethnographies addresses the relations enacted in practices such as prospecting and sampling, measuring, categorizing, processing, monitoring, and regulating in socio-environmental conflicts and litigations. They also analyse processes of de-materialization, de-territorialization and globalization connected to specific infrastructures and local – global (dis-)entanglements, transformations, and displacements that they generate. Research of this kind also includes engagements with forms of grassroots and activist knowledge production related to bio-social and geo-social transformations and includes the understanding of co-existing knowledge practices – techno-science, legal and TEK (traditional environmental knowledge) – that are distributed, translated, and circulated unevenly in situations of confrontation and disagreement.