Post/Extractivism

After Neoextractivism and the Boom

The commodity boom of the early twenty first century reshaped economies, landscapes, and livelihoods throughout Latin America. Skyrocketing prices for oil triggered the expansion of unconventional drilling technologies in new and established locations in Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, and Brazil. Governments in Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Peru capitalized on increasing global demand for food to push the agribusiness frontier ever deeper into the Amazon. Advances in battery technologies and growing calls for a post-petroleum ‘energy transition’ lead to speculation and investment in the ‘Lithium Triangle’ in Chile, Bolivia, and  Argentina. And these lists are only a very partial accounting. Unlike earlier moments in Latin America’s long extractivist history, governments across the region often deployed revenues derived from natural resources to support
pro-poor policies, including conditional cash transfers, infrastructure investments, regional integration, and a return to state-lead schemes for economic and social development. Variously considered in terms of progressive
extractivism, neoextractivism, and the commodity consensus, the resulting reordering of the state, society, and nature across the region explicitly rejected the neoliberalization of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, while at the same time emphasizing decolonial ethics and the primacy of social mobilizations and social movements in politics.    

Despite much hope, for often particular internal, regional, and global reasons, this neoextractivist turn never really lived up to its promises. After several years sputtering to a standstill in many countries, the progressive extractivist moment in Latin America definitively ended in 2019 with the fall of Evo Morales in Bolivia. Yet, even in places that never joined the so-called ‘Pink Tide’ of progressive governments, notably Colombia and Mexico, neoextractivism offered and continues to offer a powerful frame for critically assessing the relationships between nature, development, democracy, and subjectivity at scales ranging from the interpersonal to the planetary.  

This multidisciplinary working group provides a network to appraise the histories and legacies of neoextractivism in Latin America and the Caribbean. Our immediate aims are to organize a workshop to precede the 2021 Congress of the Canadian Association of Latin American and Caribbean Studies (to be held at the University of Toronto), and to produce a special edition of the Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies.We welcome proposals for article and presentation, including, but by no means limited to:

  • The political economies of extractivism
  • Ethnographies of extractivism, at all scales
  • Extractivism and energy transitions in the Americas
  • The Temporalities of Extraction (before and after, mechanical and geological)
  • Extractivism and degrowth/postdevelopment perspectives
  • The gendered and engendering effects of extractivism and neoextractivism
  • Canada’s role in extractive and neoextractive industries
  • Updates on specific regions, countries, and blocks
  • Notes from the field
  • Extractivism, Indigenous Politics, and Indigeneity 
  • Comparative analyses (between states, sectors, or regions)
  • Examinations of extractivism’s literary and cultural production

Submission of a brief title, abstract (150 words), and biography should be sent to Donald Kingsbury (donald.kingsbury@utoronto.ca) and Daniel Tubb (dtubb@unb.ca) by October 25, 2020.