Unraveling Industry

A work in progress launching Spring 2021.

An investigation into the network of oil and gas infrastructure in the Mississippi River Delta of southeastern Louisiana. Through multiple outcomes, including a digital counter-mapping platform, this project disentangles snarled permits for wells, pipelines, and canals. This will be the first map that organizes this infrastructure by company, rendering corporate accountability visible and sensible and building a public case for “ecological reparations”—reparations for segregated human communities as well as between human beings and our wider ecosystems.

This project investigates the corporate-colonial cosmologies that our extractive cultures follow to the end(s) of the earth and imagines horizons of justice. It traces corporate-colonial guiding lines through the continuum of Extractivism, which spans from colonialism and slavery to coastal erosion and climate change. Uses a methodology I call cartographic unraveling, it disentangles and analyzes the GIS lines (pipelines and canals) and points (wells) used to make geography, unmake communities, and break Earth’s geology.

In the US state of Louisiana, the fossil fuel industry maintains the spatial, economic, and environmental logic of colonialism and slavery. Since 1926, oil and gas companies have dredged 10,000 linear miles of ‘access canals’ to drill and access over 75,000 wells throughout the state’s coastal wetlands, a practice that has led to widespread coastal erosion. Upriver and down the fossil fuel production cycle in ‘Cancer Alley’, the nation’s most polluting petrochemical plants and refineries occupy the footprints of former plantations.

The images below reveal the obscured constellations of lines and points (representing permits for pipelines, canals, and wells) that guide our society toward disposession and disaster. Ultimately, these maps will be sewn into an interactive mapping platform and augmented with corporate logos and a color-coded system to reveal to the corporate authors of these inscriptions. Only corporate-colonial accountability and reparations can re-orient us toward a horizon of justice.


All images and texts on this site are the creations of Imani Jacqueline Brown, unless otherwise noted, e.g. photodocumentation of works or collaborative projects. All works fall under a creative commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license.