Silas Grant

Silas Grant

Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago

Silas Grant studies the relationship between oil and gas extraction and settler jurisdiction in northwestern New Mexico’s San Juan Basin. In this region, a recent fracking boom has brought extraction deeper into the Greater Chaco landscape, held sacred by Diné (Navajo) communities living in the area and by Pueblo Nations throughout New Mexico.

The legacies of the Allotment Era have produced a highly-fragmented pattern of jurisdiction over both surface land and subsurface minerals in this checkerboard landscape, where alternating tracts of land are complexly administered by federal, tribal, state, and private entities. Jurisdiction not only has profound implications for where, how, and if extraction takes place: it also affects who gets to have a say in the process.

Drawing on two years of ethnographic and archival research in northwestern New Mexico and in Eastern Navajo Agency, Silas’s research analyzes how different jurisdictions parse out components of the region’s ecology for management purposes. Silas attends to both the extra-local and large-scale cumulative effects of extraction that are not contained by the jurisdictions that exist to manage them. Silas’s dissertation traces how relations of sovereignty, territory, and ordinary life are shaped in part through frictions engendered in contests to control energy extraction. Originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Silas earned a BA in International Development Studies from Dalhousie University and an MA in Geography from the University of Toronto. Silas came their dissertation research through involvement in the climate justice movement.

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