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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Petro-Movement: The New Pattern of Global Terrorism

Heather Turcotte.

The United States State Department's report entitled Patterns of Global Terrorism 2000, listed the Niger Delta of Nigeria a terrorist region because of its increased political chaos and violence within the oil-producing communities. Since the late 1990s, the US is increasingly cataloguing oil-producing regions of states, such as Chad, Colombia, Nigeria and Venezuela, as terrorist or volatile regions. Consequently, US military and military funding has been dispersed throughout these oil-producing regions in an effort to protect oil production and transportation. At what juncture does an oil-producing region become a terrorist threat to the US or any state government? This paper argues that it was the use of strategic protest actions shared transnationally between oil-producing communities and organizations, which led to the development of a petro-movement that threaten the interests of the US, the multinational petroleum corporations and the oil producing state. A critical approach to social movement theory helps to explain how various oil-producing communities networked with one another, as well as with international organizations in an effort to challenge Big Oil and the State for the purposes of acquiring political, economic and social justice. This paper asserts the increased militarization of oil-producing regions justified through a discourse of terrorism, much like Foucault's regime of truth, is merely a legitimization process that defeats democratic notions of social justice in order to achieve subversive goals. This paper concludes the ability of movements to align transnationally with one another increases their relational power within the international system.


Heather Turcotte  (United States)
Graduate Student
University of California Santa Cruz

  • Petroleum
  • Social movements
  • Terrorism
  • Nigeria
  • State-society Relations
  • US foreign policy

(Virtual Presentation, English)