Transversal Harm, Regulation, and the Tolerance of Oil Disasters

Kotsakis, Andreas and Boukli, Avi (2023). Transversal Harm, Regulation, and the Tolerance of Oil Disasters. Transnational Environmental Law, 12(1) pp. 71–94.



Law – through regulation, criminalization and litigation – provides key mechanisms for mitigating the harmful effects of oil disasters. At the same time, these mechanisms also enable the perpetuation of oil disasters under an extractivist imperative. This disaster tolerance is the point of departure for this article's examination of the legal response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster over the last decade. Based on a methodology that combines a social harm approach with the political ecology of Felix Guattari, we firstly present a reconceptualization of harm inflicted by oil corporations across three registers: environment, society, and subjectivity. We subsequently introduce the concept of transversal harm, which allows us to move beyond the criminal and civil damage of corporate crime and negligence and to capture the collective and continuous impact of oil extractivism, as opposed to the exceptional impact of oil disasters. Transversal harm opens new avenues for assigning corporate responsibility and reducing disaster tolerance as the by-product of environmental law.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions