Governing Nature, Sustaining Degradation: An Eco-Governmental Critique of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster
Lawrence, Jennifer Leigh
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This dissertation explores the discursive production of, and response to, environmental disaster. The project is contextualized through the case of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. By interrupting traditional perceptions of environmental disaster, this project frames socio-environmental disasters as a normal and increasingly experienced part of global hydrocarbon capitalism. The project purports that disaster is embedded within the current global economy and the high-]modernist ideologies that underlie it. As such, the strategies and techniques employed to respond to environmental disaster are intimately bound up within the same systemic processes that have created them in the first place. Moreover, because instrumentalist responses are quickly employed to mitigate disaster, the systemic factors productive of disaster remain concealed. Environmental disaster is thus a process of hydrocarbon capitalism rather than a product of it; as such it can, among other categories, be understood as manageable, profitable, and litigable. This research also highlights the normalization of chronic socio-environmental disaster though sensationalistic perspectives on acute disaster. This project explores the potential for resistance through artistic endeavors, highlighting how the discursive processes that construct traditional power/knowledge formations of environmental disaster might be subverted through non-traditional means. While the framework of eco-governmentality is especially useful in highlighting the problematic social relationships to nature, the project nonetheless acknowledges that counter-discourses for are likely to be appropriated by industry for the purpose of new enterprise and profit.
- Doctoral Dissertations