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Faculty Fellow

Ryan Cecil Jobson

Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Anthropology University of Chicago


Photo by Erielle Bakkum

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 manuscript, The Petro-State Masquerade, is a historical ethnography of fossil fuel industries and postcolonial state building in Trinidad and Tobago. Excavating more than a century of commercial oil, gas, and petrochemical development, Jobson 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. 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.


Oil slicks from leaks in the various oil production and storage platforms located on Lake Maracaibo, in Venezuela, June 11, 2003. Courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

Fossil Capitalism in the Global South

2022 – 2023