Initiatives designed to increase transparency have become a tool for improving governance and fighting corruption in the natural resource sector. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is an international organisation that administers a voluntary standard for natural resource revenue transparency. In line with liberal democratic ideals, EITI aims to empower citizens through the dissemination of information supporting governance improvements, public scrutiny and accountability in the sharing of benefits from resource extraction. Adopting a critical lens to transparency, the article examines EITI’s efforts to disseminate natural resource revenue data in rural Liberia. By focusing on how transparency is performed through dissemination workshops, the article creates a nuanced understanding of transparency by analysing how it is operationalised and practiced in encounters with people in areas where resource extraction takes place. The paper begins with an overview of relevant research and the conceptual framing of the study focusing on the performance in and of transparency and continues with a discussion of EITI internationally and in Liberia. Then follows a discussion of the ethnographic approach – travelling with the Liberian EITI-team on their dissemination trip. Through the analysis the article enables an understanding of the workings of transparency by examining how practitioners perform transparency through the performance in the workshops: the structure and orchestration of the workshops; and the performance of transparency by understanding the ways in which the workshops become spectacles that help to legitimise, rationalise and camouflage the fragmented and contradictory realities of extractive industries and their implications for people.
Epremian, LevonBrun, Cathrine
Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment\School of Architecture
Year of publication: 2018Date of RADAR deposit: 2018-09-21