In 2007, Ecuador joined the Latin American “Pink Tide” by electing a left-wing president, Rafael Correa, who voiced opposition to US imperialism and advocated higher levels of redistribution and social investment. However, shortly after coming to power, Correa came into conflict with members of his own coalition over the future of resource extraction in the country. Should Ecuador try to leverage its mineral wealth and oil fields to promote social welfare and human development, or should the country abandon the extractive model altogether because of its human and environmental costs?
Resource Radicals: From Petro-Nationalism to Post-Extractivism in Ecuador
(Duke UP, 2020) examines the deeper questions for democratic theory at stake in conflicts over resource extraction. Who are “the people” that have the authority to make decisions about whether the benefits of mining projects exceed the costs, the mining communities or the nation as a whole? How much authority should democratic governments delegate to experts to make decisions with enormous economic and environmental consequences for large groups of people? Using ethnographic and archival methods, Thea Riofrancos delves into the contentious politics of resource extraction, and in the process provides a new perspective on the “resource curse” literature in political science and economics.