Fatal Extraction: A Comparative Analysis of Environmental Conflicts in Ecuador during the Presidency of Rafael Correa

Head shot of Joey Harris

Name: Joey Harris
Major: Political Science
Minor: Economics
Advisor: Erum Haider

Conflicts over how natural resources are governed have become an increasingly important factor in the relationship between a government and its citizens. Over the past decade, those who have challenged their government’s right to extract local natural resources have been subject to a large amount of state repression and violence. This study seeks to understand when this is more likely to occur. Specifically, it asks: Do the types of demands a movement poses to the state within an environmental conflict affect the level of repression it encounters? Building off the work of past studies of both environmental conflict and repression, I hypothesize that within environmental conflicts, the more a movement challenges a government’s monopoly on nature within its borders (represented by its ability to extract resources), the more likely said movement will face repression. To test this hypothesis, this paper employs a comparative case study analysis of four environmental conflicts in Ecuador during the tenure of former President Rafael Correa (2007-2017). These case studies were chosen through the use of the Environmental Justice Atlas, a database of over 3,800 environmental conflicts from across the world. With statistical data analysis of all cases in Ecuador and deeper research into the four chosen case studies, I find support for my hypothesis. Specifically, I find that groups whose demands seek to prevent natural resource extraction from occurring prior to a project beginning are more likely to encounter state repression in environmental conflicts than those whose challenges occur in reaction to an ongoing project, or after a project has been completed.

Posted in Comments Enabled, Independent Study, Symposium 2023 on April 13, 2023.

One response to “Fatal Extraction: A Comparative Analysis of Environmental Conflicts in Ecuador during the Presidency of Rafael Correa”

  1. Prof. Leiby says:

    Congratulations, Joey! This was a great example of a comparative IS 🙂

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