Dr Gisa Weszkalnys

Gisa Weszkalnys is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics. She received her PhD in anthropology from the University of Cambridge (2005) and subsequently worked at Goldsmiths College, the University of Oxford and the University of Exeter before taking up her position at LSE in 2012. She is the author of Berlin, Alexanderplatz: Transforming Place in a Unified Germany (Berghahn, 2010) and the co-editor of Elusive Promises: Planning in the Contemporary World (with Simone Abram, Berghahn 2013). Aside from her research on planning, Gisa has also worked on interdisciplinary research policy and practice in Germany, the UK, and the US.

Gisa’s most recent research explores expectations and fears regarding future oil extraction in São Tomé and Príncipe. Funded by the British Academy and the John Fell OUP Research Fund, Gisa has studied the ways in which oil is being anticipated as a potential source of future wealth and prosperity but also as a possible harbinger of a so-called resource curse. Her research shows how local apprehensions of resource extraction articulate with colonial and post-colonial hopes of socio-economic change, and interrogates the incomplete efforts to control people’s hopes and disappointments regarding oil. This research uses ethnographic methods and critical social theory to re-think problems that have been the mainstay of economists and political scientists. Simultaneously, it sheds new light on issues that have been at the forefront of economic anthropology and anthropological studies of Africa in recent years, including citizenship, economic subjectivity, wealth, fortune and misfortune, and connects them to broader disciplinary debates on ontology and capitalism.

Gisa was able to develop this research further during a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2012-2013). The project pursues more broadly the question of: What kind of matters are resources, and how do they come to matter? The result of this research will be a book manuscript with the working title Hope and Oil: An Ethnography of Speculation and Absence.

Gisa has also carried out consultancy research in the field of natural resources and development working, for example, with UNDP in São Tomé and Príncipe and with the Open Society Institute in Angola.

Selected Publications:


2010. Berlin, Alexanderplatz: Transforming Place in a Unified Germany, Berghahn Books: Oxford and New York.

Edited volumes:

Forthcoming (2014). (with T. Richardson) Resource Materialities: New Anthropological Perspectives on Natural Resource Environments, special issue of Anthropological Quarterly 87(1)

2013. (with S. Abram) Elusive Promises: Planning in the Contemporary World, Berghahn Books: Oxford and New York.

2011. (with S. Abram) “Elusive Promises: Planning in the Contemporary World”, Theme Issue o Focaal 61.

Journal articles:

Forthcoming (2014). “Resource Materialities” (with Tanya Richardson), in Anthropological Quarterly 87(1).

2011. “Cursed Resources, or Articulations of Economic Theory in the Gulf of Guinea”, Economy and Society 40(3): 345-372.

2010. “Re-conceiving the resource curse and the role of anthropology”, Suomen Antropologi (Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Association) 35(1): 87-90.

2009. “The Curse of Oil in the Gulf of Guinea: A view from São Tomé and Príncipe (Review Article)”, African Affairs 108(433): 679-689.

2008. “Logics of Interdisciplinarity” (with Andrew Barry and Georgina Born), Economy and Society 37(1): 20-49.

2008. “A Robust Square: youth work, planning and the making of public space in contemporary Berlin”, City and Society, 20(2): 251-274.

2008. “Hope and Oil: expectations in São Tomé e Príncipe”, Review of African Political Economy, 35(3): 473-482.

2007. “The Disintegration of a Socialist Exemplar: discourses on urban disorder in Alexanderplatz, Berlin”, Space and Culture 10(2): 207-230.

Book chapters:

2014. “Anticipating Oil: The Temporal Politics of a Disaster Yet To Come”. In Manuel Tironi, Israel Rodríguez-Giralt, Michael Guggenheim (eds), Disasters and Politics: Materials, Preparedness, Governance (The Sociological Review Monograph). Wiley-Blackwell.

2013.  Multiple Environments: Accountability, Integration, Ontology (with Andrew Barry), in Andrew Barry and Georgina Born (eds), Interdisciplinarity: Reconfigurations of the Social and Natural Sciences, pp. 178-208. Routledge: London and New York.

2013. “Oil’s Magic: Materiality and Contestation”, in Sarah Strauss, Stephanie Rupp and Thomas Love (eds), Cultures of Energy: Anthropological Perspectives on Power the Planet, pp.267-283. Left Coast Press: Walnut Creek, CA.


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