Signals and oil Satellite footprints and post-communist territories in Central Asia

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This article examines the strategies of two satellite operators working across post-communist territories of Central Asia: Eutelsat and Kazsat. To do so it develops a critical approach called footprint analysis, which involves investigating the variety of practices that occur within range of a given satellite's service. Satellites have been used in post-communist territories to circulate broadcast and telecommunication signals, facilitate flows of capital and reshape geographic imaginaries. In addition, satellites have become orbital platforms for the Caspian's booming oil industry. Satellites are used to support everything from surveying oil fields to monitoring drilling operations, from construction of oil rigs to the maintenance of pipelines. The article sets out to develop a model of analysis which can account for the more 'cultural' uses of satellites (i.e. for broadcasting) in relation to their more 'extractive' uses (i.e. for natural resource development).

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... Such writings point to an emerging interest in understanding imperceptible, invisible infrastructures from satellite footprints to undersea fibre optic cables that are critical to the global network society (see Starosielski 2015). These wireless and wired networks are resolutely material and represent infrastructural and geopolitical interests (see Parks 2009). Satellite-based valuations of both territory and resources in any given country highlight the power of these institutions and it is therefore unsurprising that a country like India with its own geospatial ambitions has taken umbrage at mapping and imagery generated by google and other platforms. ...
... A singular case of mapping infrastructures, the central role of the cart-module highlights a significant dimension of the agriculture put into play: agriculture was being broadcast over these extensions. Following the work of Lisa Parks (2005;2009;, broadcasting can be understood as a technologized practice that results in the establishment of signal territories; that is, territories that are both culturally and materially transformed by the presence of specific signals. Within this inner colonisation, the design of the cart-modules abstracted the daily flows of farmers and water streams as periodic signals whose extent was calculated beforehand. ...
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