In 2007, the left came to power in Ecuador. In the years that followed, the “twenty-first-century socialist” government and a coalition of grassroots activists came to blows over the extraction of natural resources. In Resource Radicals, Thea Riofrancos unpacks the conflict between these two leftisms: on the one hand, the administration’s resource nationalism and focus on economic development; and on the other, the anti-extractivism of grassroots activists who condemned the government’s disregard for nature and indigenous communities. In this archival and ethnographic study, Riofrancos expands the study of resource politics by decentering state resource policy and locating it in a field of political struggle populated by actors with conflicting visions of resource extraction. She demonstrates how Ecuador’s commodity-dependent economy and history of indigenous uprisings offer a unique opportunity to understand development, democracy, and the ecological foundations of global capitalism.
Thea Riofrancos is an assistant professor of political science at Providence College, an Andrew Carnegie Fellow (2020-2022), and a Radcliffe Institute Fellow (2020-2021). Her research focuses on resource extraction, renewable energy, climate change, green technology, social movements, and the left in Latin America. These themes are explored in her book, Resource Radicals: From Petro-Nationalism to Post-Extractivism in Ecuador (Duke University Press, 2020) and her co-authored book, A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal (Verso Books, 2019). She is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and serves on the steering committee of the organization’s Ecosocialist Working Group.