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Reading: Oil and Conflict in the Ecuadorian Amazon: An Exploration of Motives and Objectives

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Oil and Conflict in the Ecuadorian Amazon: An Exploration of Motives and Objectives

Authors:

Lorenzo Pellegrini ,

International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Erasmus University The Netherlands, NL
About Lorenzo

Lorenzo Pellegrini <Pellegrini@iss.nl> is Associate Professor of Economics of Environment and Development at the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS) in The Hague, The Netherlands, and Adjunct Professor at the University San Francisco of Quito, Ecuador. He received his PhD from the VU University of Amsterdam. His research interests include the socio-environmental impact of extractive industries, environmental justice, impact evaluation, institutions and corruption. Recent publications have appeared in Geoforum, World Development, The Extractive Industries and Society, Capitalism Nature Socialism and Conservation Letters. Countries of research experience include Bhutan, Bolivia, Ecuador, Honduras, India, Italy, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Peru, Rwanda, and Vietnam. Lorenzo has also led and participated in a number of research and capacity building projects in the Global South. He teaches courses on research methodology, development economics, development theory, sustainable development, and ecological economics.

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Murat Arsel

International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Erasmus University The Netherlands, NL
About Murat

Murat Arsel <arsel@iss.nl> is Professor of Political Economy of Sustainable Development at the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS) in The Hague, The Netherlands, and Adjunct Professor at the University San Francisco of Quito, Ecuador. His research focuses on the tension between global capitalism, nature and socio-economic development. He is currently completing a book manuscript on the Yasuni-ITT initiative of Ecuador to be published by Oxford University Press.

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Abstract

This exploration piece challenges the dominant reading of oil-related social conflicts through an environmental prism. Through a methodological intervention that classifies conflicts as ‘brown’ (concerning primarily the distribution and investment of economic rents) or ‘green’ (demanding ecological remediation, improved extraction practices, or cessation of oil extraction altogether), it analyses a database of oil related conflicts in the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon. The region is particularly suitable for such a study not only because oil extraction has a long history there but also because the resulting conflagration has been well-documented. Building on the finding that twenty-two of the thirty-six cases that could be classified along this dichotomous divide are “brown”, the article problematizes the extant scholarly literatures’ conceptualization and discusses the potential analytical benefits of recognizing that some movements might be motivated primarily by concerns that are not necessarily environmental. A more thorough recognition of the motives underpinning contentious action concerning extractive industries is also a prerequisite for understanding the policy influence of social mobilization. 

 

Resumen: Petróleo y conflicto en el Amazonas ecuatoriano: Una exploración de motivos y objetivos 

La presente exploración desafía la lectura dominante de los conflictos sociales relacionados con el petróleo a través de un prisma ambiental. Mediante una intervención metodológica que clasifica los conflictos como “marrón” (principalmente en relación con la distribución y la inversión de las rentas económicas) o “verde” (que exigen reparación ecológica, prácticas de extracción mejoradas o el cese de la extracción de petróleo en su totalidad), se analiza una base de datos de petróleo relacionada con los conflictos en el norte de la amazonia ecuatoriana. La región es particularmente adecuada para un estudio de este tipo, no solo porque la extracción de petróleo tiene una larga historia, sino también porque la conflagración resultante está bien documentada. Sobre la base del hallazgo de que veintidós de los treinta y seis casos, que podrían clasificarse a lo largo de esta división dicotómica, son “marrones”, el artículo problematiza la conceptualización de la literatura académica existentes y discute los posibles beneficios analíticos de reconocer que algunos movimientos pueden estar motivados principalmente por preocupaciones que no son necesariamente ambientales. Un reconocimiento más profundo de los motivos que sustentan la acción contenciosa sobre las industrias extractivas también es un requisito previo para comprender la influencia política de la movilización social. 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.32992/erlacs.10413
How to Cite: Pellegrini, L., & Arsel, M. (2018). Oil and Conflict in the Ecuadorian Amazon: An Exploration of Motives and Objectives. European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, (106), 209–218. DOI: http://doi.org/10.32992/erlacs.10413
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Published on 19 Dec 2018.
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