The arts of intimacy and insecurity in the Niger Delta - Dr David Pratten
Dr David Pratten, University of Oxford
The arts of oil: intimacy and insecurity in the Niger Delta
Is there a popular culture of oil in Africa? Can we understand how everyday lives are shaped by the oil industry through the popular arts that represent and resist it? This paper is based on a collaborative research initiative with the Institute of Niger Delta Studies at the University of Port Harcourt and seeks to examine the ways in which the relationship between oil, youth and violence is expressed in the arts and cultural heritage of the Niger Delta.
The research seeks to map the emergence of aesthetic responses to ecological and political crisis by producing a cultural history of Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s main ‘oil city’. The paper asks how the artists and authors of Port Harcourt account for the legacy of oil on the lives of the ‘youth’. Imagined as vanguards of militant insurgency and the victims of multi-nationals and the Nigerian petro-state, the paper examines how the arts reinforce and complicate everyday, gendered experience in their ability to portray vulnerability, intimacy and dignity.