Publication Details

DiMuzio, T, 'The real resource curse and the imperialism of development', Suomen Antropologi, 35(1), 2010, pp 94-97.


The idea that the scope of anthropology in the face of the new development economics be widened is a welcome one. In explaining what has been called ‘the resource curse’, Gisa Weszkalnys (in this issue) suggests that anthropologists must go beyond merely looking for the social details that might help economists account for why their theories often go awry in real social settings. In other words, the role of the anthropologist is not to provide social justifications for economic models gone wrong. Rather, Weszkalnys asks anthropologists concerned with studying communities with coveted and valuable world resources to approach their study with a broader gaze. Doing so, according to the author, would entail at least four things: 1) providing ethnographic research on the role played by local and international individuals and groups involved coordinating, negotiating and governing resource extraction, 2) to explore and document how the local community experiences resource exploitation, 3) to study the very real material transformations that accompany resource extraction, and 4) to problematize the idea of ‘the resource curse’ by considering the specificity of the local environment and how locals understand the relation between resources and development. In addition to these four roles anthropologists might play, Weszkalnys suggests that the notion of a resource curse and how local communities might respond to it be contextualized within a broader history of ‘development’ projects that may or may not have been successful. These are all indeed convincing and worthy guidelines for conducting research in so-called ‘resource curse’ environments. But are there additional factors that anthropologists might consider?

Link to publisher version (URL)

Suomen Antropologi