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Supervised By

Dr Claire Waterton (Centre for the Study of Environmental Change, ESRC Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Geonomics) and Dr Saskia Vermeyley (Lancaster Environmental Centre)

Thesis Title

Destruction of the Ecological Self - Ethnographic Explanation in the Niger Delta.

Thesis Outline

My PhD is interdisciplinary. It covers Environmental and Natural Resource Sociology, Political Ecology/Political Economy, Geopolitics, Geographies of Health, Oil spill polluted /Bio-contaminated environment and Rural livelihoods. My research goes beyond the visible or direct effects of oil spills and associated activities of oil multinationals in the Niger Delta. Its focus is on the indirect effects that are subtle, which in the long-run or short-run greatly impact human health and well-being in the Niger Delta. My conceptual and theoretical framework is the Concept of the Ecological Self and Political Ecology framework.

 

"This place is part of me… My relation to this place is part of myself… If this place is destroyed, something in me is destroyed. My relationship to this place is such that if this place is changed I am changed" (Naess, 1987: 37)

 

The way the environment is conceptualised is the basis upon which its utilization hinges. It has been conceptualised in different ways to suit disparate interest which inevitably lead to conflicts of interest. Naess argues that when individuals defend their environment, they are actually acting in self defense and people feel threatened when their environment, which is an extension of their self, is destroyed. In line with this position, Ibeanu (2000) argues that the threat perceived by members of a community as a result of oil spills makes them feel unsecured. Security here entails the capacity of the biophysical environment to sustain the needs of people. It is the capacity of individuals to provide their physical and psychological needs and livelihoods. It has to do with the reduction of frustration, fears and anxieties about their abilities to meet their need. Poverty, bio-chemical contamination, injustice and the likes are what people in oil producing communities strive against (Ibeanu, 2000). In essence, their security is rooted in the sustenance provided by the environment and as such when the environment is polluted there is the feeling of insecurity. It is this feeling of threat and insecurity perceived by individuals that causes them to embark on environmental protest/resistance. Various environmental movements are focused on protecting the environment. Where the environment is protected, the individual feels protected and secured. Promulgation of environmental laws/regulation is hinged on security consciousness of the individuals striving to protect themselves by protecting their environment [ecological Self]

 

I am particularly interested in the feelings, emotions, frustrations, invoked by the political ecology and environment  pollution in the Niger Delta. The activities of oil multinational companies, the Nigerian State, and other stakeholders displace people from their livelihoods/communities which invariably affects their health.

Department of Sociology

 

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