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Underground Political Ecologies

Anthony Bebbington

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The paper argues for a political ecology of the subsoil. It explores several ways in which the extraction of mineral and hydrocarbon resources is  constitutive of, and constituted by, wider capitalist political, economic and institutional arrangements. Drawing on material from El Salvador and the Andean countries, the author analyses the contemporary governance of extractive industries, and points to significant convergence among the approaches taken by neoliberal and ostensibly post-neoliberal regimes in Latin America alike. The intersections between the extractive economy,  livelihoods and patterns of social protest are also explored. Through these examples, the paper also highlights the ways in which „activist political ecologists“ play important roles in counter-movements seeking to  re-govern the extractive economy. These countermovements are found in both civil society and different parts of the state. Such activist political  ecologists are central to the broader enterprise of an „underground political ecology“ and are often vital to the success of scholarly interventions in such political ecologies.

Keywords: extractive industries, post-neoliberalism, socio-environmental conflict, state and social movements


Schlüsselwörter: Extraktive Industrien, Post-Neoliberalismus, sozio-ökologischer Konflikt, Staat und Soziale Bewegung