Re-territorializing the future: Writing environmental histories of the oil crisis from Tanzania

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Abstract / Description of output

This article argues that environmental historians could enrich the postcolonial history of Africa by taking a more central role in narrating the major events of the recent past. It makes the case for this by considering the effects of the oil crisis of the 1970s and 1980s, which has generally been discussed as a transnational political and economic event and has remained peripheral to writing the history of African states, cities, and communities. Yet, by decimating the foreign exchange budgets of non-oil producing nations, the crisis required reimagining how nations and families provisioned resources for the economy and their lives. Using Tanzania as an example, it explores the ways in which local resources and a new push for South-South cooperation replaced imported raw materials and, more generally, paradigms of development predicated on the continued cheap price of petroleum. This re-territorializing of the future was both an ideological and practical act, as Tanzanians shifted from the horizons of post-war developmentalism to navigating profound scarcity and considering how smaller-scale technologies and intense use of local resources might help sever dependencies on the West.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)747-771
Number of pages25
JournalEnvironmental History
Issue number4
Early online date11 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


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