Call for papers: New Perspectives on International Development: The Role of the Extractive Industries

Call for papers: New Perspectives on International Development: The Role of the Extractive Industries 

The term ‘extractivism’ refers to the extraction of minerals, oil and gas that are destined for international markets. It is part and parcel of the hegemony of development (Giarraca, 2007; Böhm and Brei, 2008), often leading to relations of dependency between providers and users of resources (Misoczky, 2011).

In Latin America, Africa and Asia extractivism has been in place since colonial times, as capitalism has always been dependent on extractive economic activities (Galeano, 1997). Whether in the silver mines of Potosi, the gold mines of South Africa or the vast coal mines in Australia, colonial modes of extraction ensured that the colonies provided raw materials, cheap energy and food to the colonizers enabling the latter to accumulate capital and fuel their development. Colonialism was a structural instrument for the uneven appropriation and consumption of the world’s resources. Colonial modes of extraction had immense social, economic and environmental impacts. For example, Indigenous peoples and other colonized subjects were used as slave labour that generated much of the wealth in Europe but resulted in death and dispossession of the people that produced the wealth. Extractivism also had devastating environmental impacts, destroying livelihoods and poisoning the land, lakes and rivers that were the source of sustenance for Indigenous peoples (Gedicks, 1993; Banerjee, 2000).

The end of direct colonialism and the emergence of new nation states that were former colonies marked a significant shift in post-colonial relations. The extractive model of development has generally remained intact, even intensified, as former colonies found themselves locked into the development discourse of global neo-liberal capitalism (Banerjee, 2011; Misoczky, 2011). ‘Emerging economies’, such as China, India and Brazil, require seemingly endless supplies of raw materials to ‘develop’. Hence, the majority of Latin American countries, for example, have been specializing in raw commodities exports, as shown by the increase in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in natural resources, which reached 43% in 2010 (ECLAC, 2011). Extractivism has recently been reconfigured into what can be called ‘neo-extractivism’, referring to policies that strengthen the role of the State in the exploitation and ownership of resources (Gudynas, 2010), a development that has gained momentum in large parts of the ‘developing world’.

The renewed emphasis on extractivism is not only a phenomenon of the South, however, but is a global phenomenon. In Canada, for example, many communities are opposing the privileged access mining and oil companies have to the land and questioning the assumption that extractivism is the best and most profitable use of land and guarantee for development (see www.miningwatch.ca). In many parts of Europe mining and new forms of oil and gas drilling are expanding at an unprecedented scale and pace (FoE, 2012).

Regardless of location, extractivism is generally controlled by large transnational corporations. The state is also a key player in the political economy of extractivism by creating the conditions that enable corporations to accumulate wealth. As a consequence, economic enclosures are implemented within sovereign states, as spaces for the provision of natural resources needed for the endless process of capital accumulation. Resource rich but cash poor and indebted states have been ‘structurally adjusted’ by supranational institutions like the World Bank and IMF as well as regional development banks to open up pristine forests for resource extraction. Transnational capital in the form of multinational corporations and national governments organizes the ‘legitimate’ violence of the state to forcibly relocate Indigenous and rural communities in order to extract surplus from their land (Banerjee, 2011). Extractivism is a form of internal colonialism managed by elites of the former colonies operating under the structural power of supranational institutions like the World Trade Organization, World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Consequences for communities facing the brunt of development have been devastating whereby extractive industries have inevitably led to social dislocation, environmental destruction and loss of livelihoods (Bebbington et al., 2008; Böhm and Brei, 2008).

However, extractivism has not gone unchallenged. Anti-mining protests across the developing and developed world are on the rise (www.miningwatch.ca). These resistance movements involve a diversity of actors including community groups, local activists, domestic and international non-governmental organizations (Spicer and Böhm, 2007). Corporations that are the targets for these protest movements are by no means passive actors and use a variety of strategies to counter resistance. Ironically, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become the weapon of choice where corporations highlight their ‘sustainability’ and ‘citizenship’ credentials to obscure their role in extractivism (Mutti et al, 2011; Kapelus, 2002).

We call for papers that critically engage with the history and contemporary faces of the extractive model of capitalist development, exploring the following possible themes (amongst others):

  • Mapping the (history and contemporary face of) extractive industries and (neo)colonial development in South and North;
  • CSR strategies of extractive industries
  • Governance arrangements used by the extractive industries and other mega-development projects
  • The organization of resistance to the extractive industries and mega-development projects by social movements, NGOs and other civil society groups;
  • The role of FDI contracts and international law;
  • The relationship between the extractive industries and other mega-development projects;
  • The role of global financial institutions and development agencies as well as the role of the cooperation with NGOs and governments supporting the expansion of mega-development projects;
  • Global commodities chains: extraction, production and consumption in the international division of labour;
  • Articulations of alternatives to the models of extractivism and mega-development

To respond to this call: 

Please send abstracts, of a maximum of 500 words, on A4 paper, single spaced, 12 point font to Steffen Boehm: steffen@essex.ac.uk by 31st January 2013.  

Your abstract should include:

  • Title
  • The focus, aims and objectives of the paper
  • The research evidence base underpinning the paper
  • How the paper will contribute to the theme

Notification of paper acceptance: 22nd February 2013

Full papers will be expected by 1st May 2013

We look forward to hearing from you, and any questions in the meantime should be addressed to Steffen Boehm