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Subterranean Struggles

Subterranean Struggles: New Dynamics of Mining, Oil, and Gas in Latin America

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    Subterranean Struggles
    Book Description:

    Over the past two decades, the extraction of nonrenewable resources in Latin America has given rise to many forms of struggle, particularly among disadvantaged populations. The first analytical collection to combine geographical and political ecological approaches to the post-1990s changes in Latin America's extractive economy,Subterranean Strugglesclosely examines the factors driving this expansion and the sociopolitical, environmental, and political economic consequences it has wrought.

    In this analysis, more than a dozen experts explore the many facets of struggles surrounding extraction, from protests in the vicinity of extractive operations to the everyday efforts of excluded residents who try to adapt their livelihoods while industries profoundly impact their lived spaces. The book explores the implications of extractive industry for ideas of nature, region, and nation; "resource nationalism" and environmental governance; conservation, territory, and indigenous livelihoods in the Amazon and Andes; everyday life and livelihood in areas affected by small- and large-scale mining alike; and overall patterns of social mobilization across the region.

    Arguing that such struggles are an integral part of the new extractive economy in Latin America, the authors document the increasingly conflictive character of these interactions, raising important challenges for theory, for policy, and for social research methodologies. Featuring works by social and natural science authors, this collection offers a broad synthesis of the dynamics of extractive industry whose relevance stretches to regions beyond Latin America.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-74863-7
    Subjects: Business, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Abbreviations
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. CHAPTER 1 Political Ecologies of the Subsoil
    (pp. 1-26)

    If the 2009 box-office hitAvatarshowed anything, it was that the political ecology of the subsoil can make for great commercial success. Indeed, the film has it all. At a macropolitical economy level, it deals with resource wars (cf. Le Billon 2008); the interactions between (galactic) commodity chains and territorial dynamics (cf. Bridge 2008); extraction, dispossession, and the viability of capitalism (cf. Harvey 2003); and the endogenization of the subsoil to global political economy (cf. Huber and Emel 2008). It offered a critique of corporate social and environmental responsibility (cf. Emel 2002; Watts 2004b), a take on subaltern resistance,...

  6. CHAPTER 2 New Geographies of Extractive Industries in Latin America
    (pp. 27-66)

    Shortly after midnight on Friday, October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus and his expeditionary force of three ships first hove into view of the landscapes of the Americas. The next morning the expedition made landfall on a small island in the Bahamas where Columbus claimed the lands for the Spanish Crown.¹ When the many inhabitants of the island approached them, Columbus and his men offered them a few red caps, glass beads, and “many other things of little value,” which apparently “gave them great pleasure and made them so much our friends it was a marvel to see” (Columbus, as cited...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Nature and Nation: Hydrocarbons, Governance, and the Territorial Logics of ʺResource Nationalismʺ in Bolivia
    (pp. 67-90)

    It has been more than a decade since Bridge (2001) critiqued thefin-de-siècleresource triumphalism that celebrated the apparently endless abundance of natural resources and the simultaneous dematerialization of the economy. Closely linked to the neoliberal market triumphalism that heralded the end of history (Fukuyama 1992), this “post-scarcity narrative” captured the exuberant sensation of “low commodity prices, brimming resource inventories, and outward indications of resource abundance that would appear to signal this final victory over the forces of nature” (Bridge 2001, 2151). Indeed, in the frothy rhetoric of late twentieth-century capitalist globalization, the material moorings of the emergent information economy...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Rocks, Rangers, and Resistance: Mining and Conservation Frontiers in the Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru
    (pp. 91-118)

    On 5 January 1533, Hernando Pizarro set out from the city of Cajamarca on the first European encounter with Incan civilization in Central Peru. The Spaniards had just captured the Inca emperor, Atahualpa, who promised, in a story widely known to history, to pay them a fabulous ransom of gold and silver for his release (Markham 1872). Two months later, the ransom had not yet arrived and rumors were circulating that an Incan army was converging on Cajamarca. Fearing treachery, Francisco Pizarro ordered his brother to march 30 miles south to the city of Huamachuco to hasten the arrival of...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Water for Gold: Confronting State and Corporate Mining Discourses in Azuay, Ecuador
    (pp. 119-148)

    Occasional towns break up the otherwise green corridor of banana plantations that line the Pan-American Highway demarcating the limits of the rural parish of Tenguel, in the province of Guayas, Ecuador. Producers ship tens of thousands of boxes of the familiar yellow fruit from nearby ports every month. Since the United Fruit Company broke ground in Tenguel in the 1930s, it has been one of the most agriculturally productive areas along Ecuador’s Pacific coast.² However, farmer Lenin Quezada fears that all of this is at risk in exchange for another treasured export: gold.³

    At night, to the east of Lenin’s...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Territorial Transformations in El Pangui, Ecuador: Understanding How Mining Conflict Affects Territorial Dynamics, Social Mobilization, and Daily Life
    (pp. 149-172)

    The lush green mountain range of the Cordillera del Cóndor lies in the very southeast of Ecuador. With its valleys and steep cliffs covered by the dense cloud forest air, the Cordillera has become host to mines of various forms and guises. In the 1990s, these mountains were covered in landmines placed by the military during the war with Peru. Today, in these same mountains, transnational companies seek to develop mines in order to extract gold and copper on both sides of the border. The arrival in the early 2000s of large-scale mining projects owned by the Canadian companies Corriente...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Hydrocarbon Conflicts and Indigenous Peoples in the Peruvian Amazon: Mobilization and Negotiation Along the Río Corrientes
    (pp. 173-196)

    The Peruvian Amazon was the scene of significant mobilization and violence during the 2000s, with concerns over extractive industries at the very heart of these conflicts. As indigenous people and others have questioned the Peruvian government’s efforts to expand the hydrocarbon frontier, perhaps their most frequent point of reference has been the experience of oil extraction in the region of the Río Corrientes (Corrientes River) in the Northeast Peruvian Amazon. The history of Río Corrientes shows how petroleum production activities can generate social and environmental abuses in an isolated area where government agencies are barely present and offer little oversight...

  12. CHAPTER 8 Synergistic Impacts of Gas and Mining Development in Boliviaʹs Chiquitanía: The Significance of Analytical Scale
    (pp. 197-222)

    This chapter sets out to contribute to the growing body of literature on the political ecology of extractive industries by analyzing synergistic environmental and social impacts arising from gas and mining development in Bolivia’s eastern lowlands. I use the termsynergisticto refer to impacts generated by linkages between different forms of resource exploitation, particularly natural gas development, mining, logging, ranching, and hunting. Synergistic impacts are produced by chain reactions occurring at multiple scales within and beyond what Bury and Bebbington (Chapter 2 in this volume) describe as theextractive complex. I also use the term more broadly to show...

  13. CHAPTER 9 Natural Resources in the Subsoil and Social Conflicts on the Surface: Perspectives on Peruʹs Subsurface Political Ecology
    (pp. 223-240)

    It is commonly understood that subsurface natural resources such as minerals and petroleum are owned, controlled, and utilized in ways that are fundamentally different than other kinds of natural resources found on the Earth’s surface at the same location. In most countries, the state owns the subsoil and can designate exploration and exploitation rights to other entities such as private companies, sometimes in spite of incompatibility with surface land use and the wishes of land users. This dichotomy of access and of usage rights may lead to conflicts between land users and the state, and potentially between sustainable land uses...

  14. CHAPTER 10 Anatomies of Conflict: Social Mobilization and New Political Ecologies of the Andes
    (pp. 241-266)

    In this chapter, we discuss findings from a large-scale comparative research program studying the relationships between socioenvironmental conflicts, territorial dynamics, and development in areas affected by the expansion of extractive industry investment in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru. The program was prompted by investment trends, discussed in this volume, and more so by the increasing levels of rural conflict in the region. The apparent ubiquity of these conflicts demanded interpretations that go beyond individual cases to seek patterns, recognize relationships among cases, and ultimately tie together an analysis of socioenvironmental conflict with an interpretation of the political economy of development in...

  15. CHAPTER 11 Conclusions
    (pp. 267-288)

    In Chapter 1 of this book we made several strong claims regarding the relationships between the subsoil and Latin American political economy as well as the relationships between the subsoil and political ecology. We argued that since the early 1990s, the extraction of subsoil resources in Latin America has taken on forms that are fundamentally different from those of earlier periods, notwithstanding the long histories of mining and hydrocarbon investment within which contemporary extraction is rooted. We also claimed that extraction has become central to the region’s more general political economy. At the same time, we argued that a close...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 289-326)
  17. Contributors
    (pp. 327-332)
  18. Index
    (pp. 333-343)