Extractivism and Environmental Justice in Latin America and the Global South
Full course description
Extractivism is a name given by activists and scholars to the boom of large-scale, export-led, capital-intensive resource extraction projects, including mining, fossil fuels, and agro-industries, adopted by many countries and regions as a "development strategy". This course will explore the phenomenon of extractivism and related development megaprojects in the context of neoliberal and post-neoliberal economies in the so-called Global South.
Case studies will focus on Latin America but may also include cases from all the Global South. We will explore environmental controversies related to communities' disputes for land, water, and local autonomy. We will also focus on governments' and corporations' responses to the increasing social protest and society's demands for better practices, sustainability, and wealth distribution. Problems will be discussed from the perspective of political ecology and environmental justice, anthropology, and human geography.
Tasks will dwell on topics such as the invention of "underdevelopment", Environmental Impact Assessments, Corporate Social Responsibility, the legal frameworks available for ethnic minorities, the contradictions in the economic valuation of socio-environmental impacts, and the relationship between science and local knowledge, among others. We will pay special attention to concepts, theories, and alternatives emerging from the collaboration of local communities, activists, and critical scholars. We will also reflect on what social movements' experiences can teach us in a world increasingly concerned with climate change, resource depletion, and human rights.
At the end of this course, students should:
- Understand the tensions and dilemmas in the so-called Global South concerning development and resource extraction, focusing on Latin American countries.
- Identify the social and environmental consequences of natural resource extraction and development megaprojects, the triggers of social conflict, the diversity of activists' demands, and the State and corporations' responses.
- Become acquainted with the fields of political ecology, environmental justice, and critical studies of development and extractivism.
- Explain and reflect on a topic of your choice related to extractivism and development in the Global South.
COR1003 Contemporary World History.
Recommended: One or more of the following courses SSC2071 Latin America: history, politics and cultures, SSC1029 Sociological Perspectives, SSC3006 The Social Study of Environmental Problems: Between Nature, Society, and Politics, SSC2046 Globalization and Inequality: Perspectives on Development, SSC3013/SSC2059 Social movements
- E-reader: selected articles and book chapters