Ryan Cecil Jobson is an anthropologist and social critic of the Caribbean and the Americas. His research and teaching engage issues of energy and extractivism, states and sovereignty, climate and crisis, race and capital.
His first book, The Petro-State Masquerade: Oil, Sovereignty, and Power in Trinidad and Tobago, will be published by The University of Chicago Press in autumn 2024. In a historical ethnography of fossil fuel industries and postcolonial state building, Jobson excavates more than a century of commercial oil, gas, and petrochemical development in the twin-island nation. In doing so, he theorizes how the tenuous relationship between hydrocarbons and political power—enshrined in the hyphenated form of the petro-state—is upheld through a “masquerade of permanence” sustained by speculative offshore and deepwater extraction. Meanwhile, working class Trinbagonians play a mas of their own—in the form of strikes, protests, and the Carnival road march—to stage direct democratic alternatives to the fossil economy.
Jobson is at work on two subsequent projects: A collection of essays on climate change and the receding horizon of habitability in the Caribbean and a manuscript on anthropological theory and method in an era of climate extinction.
Jobson is the Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago, where he also holds faculty appointments in the Committee on Environment, Geography, and Urbanization (CEGU), the Center for Latin American Studies, and the Department of Race, Diaspora, and Indigeneity. He is Associate Editor of the journal Transforming Anthropology and sits on the editorial boards of Current Anthropology and Small Axe. Jobson earned his PhD in African American Studies and Anthropology from Yale University.
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