Subterranean Struggles

[ Latin American Studies ]

Subterranean Struggles

New Dynamics of Mining, Oil, and Gas in Latin America

Edited by Anthony Bebbington and Jeffrey Bury

Blending perspectives from geography and political ecology, this pioneering essay collection probes the recent resurgence of global investment in mineral and hydrocarbon extraction in Latin America, examining the environmental and social consequences through a transdisciplinary lens.

November 2013


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6 x 9 | 361 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-4773-0206-4

Over the past two decades, the extraction of nonrenewable resources in Latin America has given rise to many forms of struggle, particularly among disadvantaged populations. The first analytical collection to combine geographical and political ecological approaches to the post-1990s changes in Latin America’s extractive economy, Subterranean Struggles closely examines the factors driving this expansion and the sociopolitical, environmental, and political economic consequences it has wrought.

In this analysis, more than a dozen experts explore the many facets of struggles surrounding extraction, from protests in the vicinity of extractive operations to the everyday efforts of excluded residents who try to adapt their livelihoods while industries profoundly impact their lived spaces. The book explores the implications of extractive industry for ideas of nature, region, and nation; “resource nationalism” and environmental governance; conservation, territory, and indigenous livelihoods in the Amazon and Andes; everyday life and livelihood in areas affected by small- and large-scale mining alike; and overall patterns of social mobilization across the region.

Arguing that such struggles are an integral part of the new extractive economy in Latin America, the authors document the increasingly conflictive character of these interactions, raising important challenges for theory, for policy, and for social research methodologies. Featuring works by social and natural science authors, this collection offers a broad synthesis of the dynamics of extractive industry whose relevance stretches to regions beyond Latin America.


Preface and Acknowledgements

1. Political Ecologies of the Subsoil

Anthony Bebbington and Jeffrey Bury

2. New Geographies of Extractive Industries in Latin America

Jeffrey Bury and Anthony Bebbington

3. Nature and Nation: Hydrocarbons, Governance, and the Territorial Logics of "Resource Nationalism" in Bolivia

Thomas Perreault

4. Rocks, Rangers, and Resistance: Mining and Conservation Frontiers in the Cordillera Huayhuash, Peru

Jeffrey Bury and Timothy Norris

5. Water for Gold: Confronting State and Corporate Mining Discourses in Azuay, Ecuador

Jennifer Moore and Teresa Velásquez

6. Territorial Transformations in El Pangui, Ecuador: Understanding How Mining Conflict Affects Territorial Dynamics, Social Mobilization, and Daily Life

Ximena S. Warnaars

7. Hydrocarbon Conflicts and Indigenous Peoples in the Peruvian Amazon: Mobilization and Negotiation Along the Río Corrientes

Anthony Bebbington and Martin Scurrah

8. Synergistic Impacts of Gas and Mining Development in Bolivia's Chiquitanía: The Significance of Analytical


Derrick Hindery

9. Natural Resources in the Subsoil and Social Conflicts on the Surface: Perspectives on Peru's Subsurface Political


Julio C. Postigo, Mariana Montoya, and Kenneth R. Young

10. Anatomies of Conflict: Social Mobilization and New Political Ecologies of the Andes

Anthony Bebbington, Denise Humphreys Bebbington, Leonith Hinojosa, María-Luisa Burneo, and Jeffrey Bury

11. Conclusions

Anthony Bebbington, Jeffrey Bury, and Emily Gallagher




Bebbington is Director of the Graduate School of Geography at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Bury is Associate Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

“Overall this book is an excellent contribution to the contributes to understanding the contentious and complex processes that entails the pursuit of development in the region."
Journal of Human Development and Capabilities

“Innovative. . . . Subterranean Struggles does a superb job of providing a unique, up-to-date overview of the social dimensions of mining in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.”
—Gregory Knapp, Associate Professor of Geography and the Environment, University of Texas at Austin

“The last few years have seen a real growth of interest in extractive industry . . . the topic has begun to boom. This book is sure to be a foundational text for political ecologists and scholars from cognate fields as they work to make sense of the recent worldwide expansion of oil, gas, and mineral extraction as well as the struggles and contestations that this expansion has generated.”
—Matthew Himley, Assistant Professor of Geography, Illinois State University

"If, as the conclusion states, 'history and memory are again central to how people make sense of contemporary extraction', we owe the editors and contributors our gratitude for making sure that history is told in a manner as scholastically rigorous, and conceptually cogent, as possible."
—Benjamin K. Sovacool, Journal of Latin American Geography