MARTIN GARCIA Facundo Damian
capítulos de libros
Reimagining Extractivism: Insights from Spatial Theory
Contested Extractivism, Society and the State Struggles over Mining and Land
Lugar: Londres; Año: 2016; p. 33 - 45
The aim of this chapter is twofold: to outline the analytical biases and spatial omissions that the Latin American literature on extractivism presents, and to lay the foundations for a framework that focuses on the significance of spatial categories for political-ecological research on extractivism. I aim to critically contest the ambiguities and misunderstandings of regionally focused explanations, and argue that critical spatial categories enable a comprehensive analysis that strengthens empirical research starting from concrete and place-based struggles. This proposed approach is, on the one hand, embedded in the field of political ecology, understood as a research framework for studying socio-ecological crises focussing on social relations of power and domination (Robbins, 2004; Peet & Watts, 2004; Bridge, 2014). On the other hand, it is based on critical space theory (Lefevbre, 1991; Jessop et al., 2008; Harvey, 2001), which supports ?a non-essentialist concept of space arguing against both the deterministic idea of space as an external ?container? encompassing social processes and against purely constructivist approaches that deny any autonomist materiality of space? (Dietz et al., 2015). In so doing, this contribution seeks to achieve ?a broader and more sophisticated sense of the forms of political contention and [a] deeper conception of what is contended? (Peet & Watts, 2004, p. 6) when it comes to extractivism. The main body of this research was conducted through critical literature review and field research in Argentina and other Latin American countries. I analysed Latin American literature on extractivism as well as academic writings on space and power relations with a specific focus on the resource-state nexus, notably from the fields of resource geography and critical geopolitics. Furthermore, I conducted several weeks of fieldwork between 2013 and 2015 on land-related social struggles in Argentina and other countries in South America (Chile, Brazil, Colombia and Paraguay). Fieldwork consisted of different forms of data collection, such as semi-structured interviews with state, private and local community actors. I also collected data through participant observations on political and social struggles over extractivist projects in Argentina and Brazil.My argument in this chapter is organised in four steps. Firstly, I critically scrutinise Latin American explanations of extractivism, highlighting their strengths, biases and weaknesses; the latter both in terms of facing global industrial dynamics and their socio-spatial implications. Secondly, I briefly present current debates on critical spatial theory to demonstrate that a great deal of the existing literature insufficiently accounts for the spatiality of extractivism. Thirdly, turning to three political and spatial thinkers ? Henri Lefebvre, Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben ? I propose the use of critical socio-spatial approaches to explore key concepts, connections and ways of overcoming the lack of critical reflection on the complex spatiality of extractivism. With these theoretical insights, I aim to bring the scholarly imagination back to the task of exploring analytical categories in order to boost empirical research on the spatiality of extractivism. Finally, I summarise the main arguments and discuss why ?space? is crucial for gaining a better understanding of the contentious politics of extractivism.