"Money Talks, Everything Else Walks": Interrupted Urbanization in a Bakken City

Authors: Thomas Loder*, Texas A&M University
Topics: Energy, Urban Geography, Economic Geography
Keywords: Oil and gas, fracking, rural transitions, urbanization
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Galerie 5, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has become one of the premier methods for extracting oil and gas from underground shale in North America. While much attention has been focused on fracking landscapes in areas such as Texas, Colorado and Pennsylvania, the Bakken Shale in North Dakota has been largely neglected by social scientists. What little focus North Dakota has received has largely been negative, with much emphasis on issues of crime, deviance and disorder. This paper seeks to provide a counterweight to many of these portrayals by examining Minot, North Dakota, a city that has become the primary commercial and cultural hub of the predominantly rural Bakken region. While Minot has had its fair share of negative fracking-related externalities (drug and sexual violence, infrastructure burden and lack of affordable housing) and a prolonged period of struggle due to ongoing low oil prices since 2014, many long-term residents of the city have felt that fracking-led growth has finally allowed Minot, previously an agricultural and railroad city, to arrive as a major metropolitan center. Drawing on the theories of interrupted and cyborg urbanization, this paper will argue that the boom and bust cycle of Minot from 2007-2016 can be understood as the clash of older, place-based, industrial forms of economic and social organization with more contemporary globalized, technological and financial regimes that act on Minot both locally and from afar.

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