The Commodification of Nature in Latin America: Where are we going? - I

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Energy and Environment Specialty Group, Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group, Latin America Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 2:40 PM / 4:20 PM (MDT)
Room: Gallier A, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Organizers: Elvin Delgado, Beatriz Bustos
Chairs: Beatriz Bustos


Over the last decades, many Latin American countries have experienced a considerable shift of power and political ideologies from conservative neoliberal economic policies to a more center-left political strategy. Indeed, in the early 2000s Latin America’s turn to the left led many scholars (Perreault & Valdivia, 2010; Radcliffe, 2012; Valdivia, 2008) to reflect about the broader political transformations in countries such as Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela that were proposing shifts in development thinking and new political ideas about nature and resource distribution such as the Sumak Kawsay or the Socialism of the 21st Century. Yet, almost twenty years later, other scholars have argued that the region is in actuality experiencing an intensification of the extractivist economy (Gudynas, 2011; Gudynas, 2012; Yates & Bakker, 2014). This new extractivism has been the source of contention for many communities, environmental groups, and local governments due to increasing concern over the impacts of faster modes of capitalist extraction in the region – a process full of inherent contradictions. These contradictions can be seen in places like Chile, a clear neoliberal country, which despite pursuing clean renewable energy projects has not been able to reduce social conflict associated with energy projects. Another example can be seen in Argentina’s decision to exploit unconventional energy deposits such as the Vaca Muerta shale formation using hydraulic fracturing technologies as a strategy to reach energy independence in the country (Ferrante & Giuliani, 2014) These and other examples in the region raise questions about the path that Latin America is following in terms of commodity production and ecological conservation. Drawing on these insights, we seek papers that advance empirical, conceptual, and theoretical understandings of the current social, environmental, and political economic moment in the region. Among questions to consider are: what is the actual role of nature in the economic and political strategies of Latin American countries? Can we find examples of actual ecological impacts from the post-neoliberal turn in the region? Is the commodification of nature a path of no return?
Possible paper topics include, but are not limited to:
- The role of the state in shaping and legitimizing the new extractivism
- The institutional arrangements in facilitating or challenging the commodification of nature
- The socio-ecological contradictions embedded in the commodification of nature
- The way in which the materiality of nature resources shape their commodification
- The legal framework under which nature is incorporated into the production process
- The strategies used by different countries to support new modes of extraction in order to move forward their political agendas
- The responses and strategies pursued by communities affected by nature commodification in light of the post-neoliberal turn.
- The political alliances or oppositions derived from the commodification of nature.
- In what ways the emergence of the “green economy” has pushed new frontiers of nature commodification in the region.
- Connections and effects of global discourses on climate change on nature commodification in Latin America.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Johannes Rehner*, Pontificia Universidad Catolica De Chile, State and private agency in Chilean Copper mining and their link to local development 20 2:40 PM
Presenter José Castro-Sotomayor*, University of New Mexico, Farewell to the Yasuní-ITT Initiative: a representative tale of post-neoliberal states and the fallacies of new extractivism 20 3:00 PM
Presenter Elvin Delgado*, Central Washington University, Commodifying the Underground: Fracking and the State in Argentina’s Vaca Muerta. 20 3:20 PM
Presenter Carlo Altamirano-Allende*, Arizona State University, Commodifying wind: A political ecology of Mexico’s wind energy Future 20 3:40 PM
Discussant Diana Ojeda Universidad Javeriana 20 4:00 PM

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