Hassi Messaoud Oil Urbanism / The Camp and the City
The Camp and the City: Territories of Extraction

Rania Ghosn + El Hadi Jazairy, 2017

The economy of natural resources requires the de-territorialization and re-territorialization of products from the extraction hole to the whole world, or what has been conceptualized as metabolism. Promulgated by discoveries on the vascular system, the “ideology of circulation” drew on physiological analogies but also mirrored the accelerating mobility conditions of capital, people, resources, and information. By the mid-nineteenth century, architects and planners began to speak of the city and of the territory mobilizing the scientific analogies of metabolism and circulation as key to spatial organization. Terms such as “hybrid natures” and “cyborg cities” have contributed to probing the legacies of modernist divisions between the human and the nonhuman, the social and the material, the city and nature. They convey the imperative for a simultaneous consideration of the production and reproduction of nature and power, for “Once we begin to speak of people mixing their labor with the earth, we are in a whole world of new relations between people and nature.” The modern transformation of the city, highly dependent on the mastery of territorial resources, was thus linked with the representation of cities as consisting of and functioning through complex networks of circulatory systems, the veins and arteries of which extended across the land and were to be freed from all possible sources of blockage. While all very significant, such concepts remain insufficient, however, for theorizing the political relations that underpin the harvesting of the earth’s materials and the formation of urban settlements.