Major Gas Pipelines connecting North Africa to Europe

Research is what began our project, it is our collective passion.  Each member has a background in ethnographic research and/or policy analysis that was structured by critical race and queer feminist theory. This understanding deeply informs our approach to activism, perception of the fossil gas industry and research methodology. Our research project informs all our outputs and forms the basis of our campaign.

Our Decolonial Theory: A New Justice Narrative

WeSmellGas has created a working theory to conceptualise a justice-based narrative for the European anti-gas movement. The ‘Gas Industrial Complex’ (GIC) is a decolonial concept that articulates the network of corporate relations and vested political interests that fuel the creation, maintenance and expansion of the fossil gas industry globally. Inspired by the ‘Prison Industrial Complex’, we created this theory to provide civil society with discursive tools to identify and articulate the invisible and corrupt power relations on which the gas industry depends.

This network and the wider fossil gas infrastructure, rely on the colonial exploitation of racialised bodies and other marginalised groups who are made precarious through exploitative labour, land possession, exacerbation of political conflict and exposure to toxic pollutants. It is essential the GIC’s toxic triad: corporate lobbyists, political actors and legal architects, are named and their colonial effects exposed to hold power to account and facilitate a more decolonial, justice-focused climate debate. 

Why is the ‘GIC’ important?

Elements of the ‘Gas Industrial Complex’ are being discussed in different conversations across NGO’s, anti-gas groups and politicians, but the movement lacks a coherent and succinct way to describe how corporate lobbying, neocolonial extraction and the most affected people interlink. It provides a short-hand, punchy new vocabulary to express how corporate corruption manifests, how it influences policy and is deeply connected to racialised, neocolonial violence. It articulates the issue as not just region or project specific, but a global, structural phenomenon. We aim for our expansion of this theory in the coming year to help develop the anti-racist discourse of the climate justice movements, whilst opening new avenues to hold neocolonial fossil capitalism to account.

What is our research method and plan?

We have a three-pronged approach that aims to fast-track a movement wide narrative shift.

First, we are producing a research paper to disseminate in academic and policy spaces. The well-known publication ‘The Antipode Journal’ has commissioned this work as part of their ‘Right to the Discipline’ grant, publishing the paper in 2023. The paper will conceptualise and evidence the existence of the Gas Industrial Complex. It will combine ethnographic research with affected local voices, and detailed evidence gathering and policy analysis.

Second, we will produce a visually engaging documentary film. In partnership with ‘Anekdote’, an Iraqi-Belgo production house, WeSmellGas will create an audio-visual representation of its research findings that centres the most affected, local stories. It aims to present our ideas and results in a more accessible format, to engage the public and policy makers in the emotion and experiences behind the Gas Industrial Complex. 

We always welcome critical or supportive voices to our practice, and warmly encourage any feedback. We are also actively seeking collaborations from affected communities and local activists in the MENA region, Central and West Africa. Please get in touch with if you are interested.