Around the globe, conflict in relation to extraction, energy, and infrastructure has escalated—and it will only continue to do so in a rapidly warming and politically unstable world. Situated at the frontiers of capitalism’s relentless expansion, mining and oil projects are sites of dispossession and contamination. 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, Resource Radicals: From Petro-Nationalism to Post-extractivism in Ecuador (under contract at Duke University Press), 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.
Resource Radicals joins scholarship that reexamines state-social movement relations in the context of the Pink Tide, and contributes to work on the political economy of development and postcolonial state-formation. More broadly, this book offers a compelling argument against the simplifications of the “resource curse.” Instead, I analyze resource politics as an expansive and vibrant field of contention.