Temporalities of (un)making a resource: oil shales between presence and absence

Kärg Kama*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines what makes oil shales a resource. In line with growing scholarly interests in time as inherent to resource-making, the chapter accounts for “resourceness” as a liminal and transient quality, which renders resources not only materially but also temporally contingent. While oil shales have been explored in the quest for new fossil fuel supplies since the early-nineteenth century, production has recurrently failed to gain traction and persevered only in limited cases. However, rather than becoming obsolete, their geological potential continues to lure both national politics and speculative capital as an alternative energy economy to come, once petroleum scarcity and rising prices have rendered unconventional sources more viable. To foreground these contending registers of time, I describe how the resourceness of oil shales is assembled, perpetuated, and multiplied through an interplay of the industry's past legacies and future projections. I note that insomuch as these temporal techniques of (un)making the resource hinge on the presence of concrete evidence of actual production, they are also defined by the absence, the immaterial, and the virtual.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Critical Resource Geography
EditorsMatthew Himley, Elizabeth Havice, Gabriela Valdivia
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780429434136, 9780429784088 (PDF), 9780429784071 (EPUB)
ISBN (Print)9781138358805
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2021

Publication series

NameRoutledge International Handbooks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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