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.
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ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development