“COVID and Natural Resources” examines how the 2020 coronavirus pandemic interrupted the ways minerals, oil, and gas are mined, processed, circulated, and consumed. Gold prices, unsurprisingly, rose with the number of the sick, while the unthinkable — a negative price for oil on the West Texas Intermediate on April 20 — made international news, raising panic about American jobs and the overall state of the U.S. economy. However, economic and geopolitical analyses of resource prices and market trends leave us with incomplete understandings about how the pandemic continues to impact the people and communities who rely on natural resources for their livelihoods and bear the environmental impact of resource exploitation. We aim to bring to broader audiences more grounded stories of how the virus impacts people’s lives via the resources they extract and acquire. On-the-ground fieldwork is either not possible or limited; despite this constraint, sharing the stories of how coronavirus impacted everyday life along resource commodity chains will be necessary to bring into focus how marginalized workers and their communities are weathering these uncertain times. We will convene two workshops as part of the project: the first to support each other in strategizing how to collect data during the pandemic; the second to provide critical feedback on material for publication. This project will produce a series of blog posts for the general public and a special collection as part of an academic journal.
Photo by Zbynek Burival on Unsplash