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Africa scholar to discuss continent's growing role in world oil. Thursday, September 28, 2006

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — In his upcoming talk "Empire of Oil," Michael Watts, a leading geographer and Africa scholar, will discuss the politics and economics of the continent's growing role in world oil strategies. Watts was a Guggenheim Fellow for his research on Nigerian oil politics, and will speak on Thursday, September 28, at 7:00 p.m., in Rockefeller Hall, room 300. This event is free and open to the public.


Michael Watts

"It is the West African Gulf of Guinea, encompassing the rich on- and offshore fields stretching from Nigeria to Angola, that represents a key plank in [President] Bush's alternative to the increasingly volatile and unpredictable oil-states of the Persian Gulf," wrote Watts, in his article "Empire of Oil: Capitalist Dispossession and the Scramble for Africa," from the September 2006 issue of Monthly Review. "The strategic interests of the United States certainly include not only access to cheap and reliable low-sulphur oil imports, but also keeping the Chinese (for example in Sudan) and South Koreans (for example in Nigeria)—aggressive new actors in the African oil business—and Islamic terror at bay." See the complete article at http://www.monthlyreview.org/0906watts.htm.

Watts is the Chancellor's Professor of Geography and Development Studies at the University of California, Berkeley's, and a noted scholar of African development, whose next book will be about the geopolitics of oil in Africa. His earlier works include "Globalizing Agro-Food" (1997), "Liberation Ecologies" (1995), and "Geographies of Global Change" (1995).

Earlier at Berkeley, Watts directed the Institute of International Studies and chaired the Berkeley-Stanford African Studies Center. He is on the Board of Trustees of the Social Science Research Council, and has held visiting appointments at the Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Bergen, the University of Bologna, and Pennsylvania State University. Through research projects Watts has worked with the United Nations Development Programme, Ford Foundation, Oxfam, and several African non-governmental organizations.

This Matthew Vassar Lecture is sponsored by the department of geology and geography, with support from the Office of the Dean of the Faculty.

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact the Office of Campus Activities at (845) 437-5370. Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Monday, September 18, 2006