Essay A Deconstruction of Shell’s Representation of the Ogoni Issue

A Deconstruction of Shell’s Representation of the Ogoni Issue

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History Essays
A critical reading of Shell’s Nigeria website and an examination of the reality behind their attempt at corporate ‘green-washing’.

The author of this paper argues that Shell’s website on the Ogoni Issue presents a picture of an innocent corporation that has been unfairly targeted in an internal political battle in the country it happens to have oil operations in, and stresses that it cannot interfere in the domestic politics of Nigeria. The paper shows how, as has been demonstrated repeatedly over the last several decades, Shell has not only been complicit in human rights violations by various Nigerian military regimes, but has actually encouraged them when they benefited their operations. Far from being an innocent bystander, Shell is embedded in and benefited by the human rights violations in Nigeria. The author surmises that in reality, Shell’s website is little more than corporate ‘green-washing’ in a battle in which media representations are often as salient as political and economic truths.
`The effects of the 40 year involvement of Royal Dutch/Shell in Nigeria is an extremely complex issue, involving the intersection of many economic, political, environmental, social, and cultural concerns. Ogoniland, a 404 square mile patch of land in the fertile Niger River Delta that is home to over 500,000 Ogoni people, has been the site of the extraction of over $30 billion in oil by the Royal Dutch/Shell Company since the 1950s (Barikor-Wiwa, Cayford). Although comprising less than 1% of the population of the Niger Delta, the Ogoni have been amazingly effective in bringing international attention to both the environmental degradation caused by Shell’s oil operations and Shell’s complicity in and possible direct support of the human rights violations of the military regime which has until recently controlled the government of Nigeria.`

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