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Zones of Exclusion: Offshore Extraction, the Contestation of Space and Physical Displacement in the Nigerian Delta and the Mexican Gulf

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This article examines two aid interventions that manifest the merging of community development/relief and industrial security policy in the petroleum offshore of the Nigerian Niger Delta and the Mexican Gulf. In the Nigerian case, the article considers the crisis in the Warri region of Delta State in 2003, the subsequent evacuation of local residents, and the surrounding context of oil-related violence. Simmering since the 1990s, the 2003 Warri conflict displaced thousands due to competing community claims to territory that “hosts” oil installations, Shell and Chevron primarily. In Mexico, the analysis centers on the implementation of 2003 Mexican security legislation, prompted by International Maritime Organization post 9/11 security policy, that amplifies the “Zone of Exclusion” around offshore installations. To offset the loss of livelihoods resulting from the “exclusion zone”, Mexican state agencies offered financing to support the conversion of the displaced small-scale fishers to fish farming. The varying forms of displacement prompted by these two “liberating” interventions reflect the socio-historical specificity of territorial relations in the Nigerian and Mexican extractive regimes. These relations constitute divergent extractive settings which have come to play contrasting roles in the global political economy of oil, one highly volatile, the other relatively stable.
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Keywords: Mexico; Nigeria; development-induced displacement; offshore; oil; security

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada;, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2009-06-01

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