Synneva Geithus Laastad: The Janus face of local extractivism
Published in The Extractive Industries and Society, 2021
This qualitative case study of Block 192, Peru's largest oilfield, makes the case for a local form of extractivism. Local extractivism is triggered by firstly a dependence on the only economic activity there is in the area, and secondly by the strategic usage of extractive activity as local communities’ sole bargaining chip towards the government. An analysis of news items and interviews with actors involved in processes regarding Block 192, finds thatrepeated socio-environmental conflicts and production shutdowns have led to an increased state presence and willingness to negotiate. The very activity that has had detrimental effects on local communities’ livelihoods for decades is as such also their only hope for achieving public goods, welfare and income-generating opportunities: This is the Janus face of extractivism. The Janus-faced political space for permanent negotiations between communities and national government regarding both conditions for extraction and government services unrelated to the extractive activity, is created by the state's overarching imperative to continue extraction. This article thus calls for a broadened analytical focus on conditioned spaces for cross-scalar negotiation as an outcome of the extractive imperative, and more diversified representations of the local scale beyond sites of resistance or grounds for particularistic local agreements with industry only.