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An Andean Avatar: Post-Neoliberal and Neoliberal Strategies for Securing the Unobtainable

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Recent years have seen increasingly aggressive expansion of extractive industry in the Andean-Amazonian region. Reminiscent of the film Avatar, this expansion drives conflicts over land, territory and political control of space. This expansion is occurring in both overtly neoliberal regimes and in self-consciously post-neoliberal ones. This essay documents the convergence among the different regimes' ways of governing extraction and socio-environmental conflicts. We draw on Executive level statements and policy positions as well as on statements by indigenous peoples' organisations. Among the reasons for this apparent convergence are: long-standing resource curse effects; the need to generate resources to finance social policy instruments that are integral to the governments' overall political strategies; power and information asymmetries among companies and governments; and international relations. The convergences among Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru regarding the governance of extraction and the conflicts that it catalyses suggests the need for great critical caution before using the terminology of post-neoliberalism.
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Keywords: Amazon; Evo Morales; Extractive industry; indigenous peoples; mining; natural gas; oil; post-neoliberalism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Graduate School of Geography, Clark University, USA 2: Department of International Development and Social Change, Clark University, USA, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: February 1, 2011

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