In the context of a globally expanding extractive frontier, my research asks under what conditions ― and with what consequences ― resource extraction becomes the site of political conflict. Resources such as minerals or oil are implicated in the construction of political-economic orders ― states, democracies, and nations ― and serve as focal points for social resistance. In the context of Latin America, resource politics are particularly charged. They are inflected with the incomplete construction of national and regional sovereignty, legacies of popular mobilizations, and persistent aspirations to transform the relationship between economy, society, and nature.
My book manuscript, Resource Radicals: From Petro-Nationalism to Post-extractivism in Ecuador, explores radical resource politics in Ecuador from the neoliberal period to the present. Based on fifteen months of ethnographic and archival fieldwork, I trace the history of what I call “resource radicalisms”--the critical discourses that guide social movement strategy in response to resource extraction--across these time periods. I offer an account of the shift from "radical resource nationalism" to "anti-extractivism," and demonstrate how the consolidation of the latter critical discourse sparked a protracted intraleft debate, with implications for constitution making, democratic sovereignty, epistemic authority, and the possibility of a “post-neoliberal” polity.
My project joins scholarship that reexamines state-social movement relations in the context of the left-turn in Latin America, and contributes to work on the political economy of development and postcolonial state-formation. More broadly, this book invites us to reconsider Latin American leftisms, so often characterized in terms of monolithic presidential administrations, as a set of contentious processes that center on -- and critique or even deconstruct -- national sovereignty, the democratic people, the environment, the state, and consitutionalism.