A Decolonial Critique of the Racialized “Localwashing” of Extraction in Central Africa

Amber Murrey, Nicholas A. Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


Responding to calls for increased attention to actions and reactions “from above” within the extractive industry, we offer a decolonial critique of the ways in which corporate entities and multinational institutions draw on racialized rhetoric of “local” suffering, “local” consultation, and “local” culpability in oil as development. Such rhetoric functions to legitimize extractive intervention within a set of practices that we call localwashing. Drawing from a decade of research on and along the Chad–Cameroon Oil Pipeline, we show how multiscalar actors converged to assert knowledge of, responsibility for, and collaborations with “local” people within a racialized politics of scale. These corporate representations of the racialized “local” are coded through long-standing colonial tropes. We identify three interrelated and overlapping flexian elite rhetoric(s) and practices of racialized localwashing: (1) anguishing, (2) arrogating, and (3) admonishing. These elite representations of a racialized “local” reveal diversionary efforts “from above” to manage public opinion, displace blame for project failures, and domesticate dissent in a context of persistent scrutiny and criticism from international and regional advocates and activists.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)917-940
Number of pages24
JournalAnnals of the American Association of Geographers
Issue number3
Early online date3 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2020

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/
licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.


  • coloniality
  • decolonial
  • elites
  • Extraction
  • racism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development

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