‘National Resources’? The Fragmented Citizenship of Gas Extraction in Tanzania


Ahearne, R. and Childs, John 2018. ‘National Resources’? The Fragmented Citizenship of Gas Extraction in Tanzania. Journal of Eastern African Studies. 12 (4), pp. 696-715. https://doi.org/10.1080/17531055.2018.1518366
AuthorsAhearne, R. and Childs, John

Recent discoveries of oil and natural gas across East Africa have provoked a wave of political optimism fuelled by imaginaries of future development. Tanzania is a paragon of this trend; its government having asserted its potential to become a globally significant natural gas producer within a decade. Yet, this rhetorical promise has been countered by a series of violent confrontations that have taken place between state forces and residents of southern Tanzania. Although these struggles are about various articulations of resource sovereignty, this paper argues that they should be located less in questions of resource control, than in a historical marginalisation of the south, or what has been called a ‘hidden agenda’, that privileges urban centres to the north. Drawing on original qualitative data generated over three years in Mtwara and Lindi regions, it shows how gas discoveries reveal the fault lines in the construction of an inclusive ‘Tanzanian’ citizenship. Protesters counter-narrate their sense of citizenship with insurgent strategies ranging from strike action to calls for secession. In short, natural gas discoveries actually extend the fragmentation of an already ‘differentiated citizenship’. Studies of resource conflict and sovereignty, we conclude, should pay more attention to the contested nature of citizenship.

JournalJournal of Eastern African Studies
Journal citation12 (4), pp. 696-715
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Accepted author manuscript
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/17531055.2018.1518366
Web address (URL)https://doi.org/10.1080/17531055.2018.1518366
Publication dates
Online06 Sep 2018
Publication process dates
Deposited04 Sep 2018
Accepted28 Aug 2018
Accepted28 Aug 2018
Copyright informationThis is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Eastern African Studies on 06/09/2018, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/17531055.2018.1518366
LicenseAll rights reserved (under embargo)
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