Agrarian Extractivism in Latin America  book cover
1st Edition

Agrarian Extractivism in Latin America

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after May 30, 2021
ISBN 9781032006079
May 30, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
256 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Amid the growing calls for a turn towards sustainable agriculture, especially within Latin America, this book puts forth and discusses the concept of agrarian extractivism to help us identify and expose the predatory extractivist features of dominant agricultural development models.

The concept goes beyond the more apparent features of monocultures and raw material exports to examine the inherent logic and underlying workings of a model based on the appropriation of an ever growing range of commodified and non-commodified human and non-human nature in an extractivist fashion. Such a process erodes the autonomy of resource-dependent working people, dispossesses the rural poor, exhausts and expropriates nature and concentrates value in a few hands as a result of the unquenchable drive for profit by big business. In many instances, such extractivist dynamics are subsidized and/or directly supported by the state, while also dependent on the unpaid, productive and reproductive labour of women, children and elders, exacerbating unequal class, gender and generational relations. Rather than a one-size-fits-all definition of agrarian extractivism, this collection points to the diversity of extractivist features of corporate-led, external input dependent, plantation agriculture and forestry across distinct socio-ecological formations in Latin America. 

This timely challenge to the destructive dominant models of agricultural development will interest researchers from across the fields of critical development studies, rural studies, environmental and sustainability studies, Latin American studies, among others.

Table of Contents

Introduction by Ben M. McKay, Alberto Alonso-Fradejas and Arturo Ezquerro-Cañete  1. The biotechnological agrarian model in Argentina by Carla Poth  2. Extractive dynamics of agrarian change in Bolivia by Ben M. McKay and Gonzalo Colque  3. Agrarian extractivism in the Brazilian Cerrado by Sérgio Sauer and Karla R. A. Oliveira  4. The gendered workings of agrarian extractivism in Colombia by Diana Ojeda  5. Agrarian extractivism and sustainable development by Andrés León Araya  6. Gender-inclusion in the sugarcane production of agro-fuels in coastal Ecuador by Natalia Landívar García  7. Life purging agrarian extractivism in Guatemala by Alberto Alonso-Fradejas  8. Extractive agave and tequila production in Jalisco, Mexico by Darcy Tetreault, Cindy McCulligh and Carlos Lucio  9. Forestry Extractivism by Markus Kröger and Maria Ehrnström-Fuentes

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Ben M. McKay is assistant professor of development and sustainability at the University of Calgary in Canada. His research focuses on the political economy and ecology of agrarian change in Latin America, agrarian extractivism, and food sovereignty alternatives. He is the author of The Political Economy of Agrarian Extractivism: Lessons from Bolivia (2020) and co-editor of The Edward Elgar Handbook of Critical Agrarian Studies (2021) and Rural Transformations and Agro-Food Systems (2018).

Alberto Alonso-Fradejas is postdoctoral researcher at the Human Geography and Planning Department, Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University. Alberto is also an associate researcher at the Transnational Institute (TNI) in Amsterdam, a fellow of the Guatemalan Institute of Agrarian and Rural Studies (IDEAR), and Reviews Section co-editor for the Journal of Peasant Studies (JPS).

Arturo Ezquerro-Cañete holds a double PhD in International Development Studies from Saint Mary’s University and the Autonomous University of Zacatecas. His research focuses on the dynamics of agrarian transformations and new peasant movements in Paraguay. His work has been published in scholarly journals such as Journal of Agrarian Change, Latin American Perspectives, and Estudios Críticos del Desarrollo.


"This is a brilliant, ground-breaking book on extractivism, one of the world’s most important development issues today. It is a must read for everyone who aspires for social justice and sustainable development." - Saturnino M. Borras Jr., professor of Agrarian Studies, International Institute of Social Studies, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Peasant Studies and co-author of The Politics of Transnational Agrarian Movements.

"This is an urgent and necessary book that exposes the way contemporary agriculture is organized by examining the central pillars that define the logic of capital accumulation in the production of agro-food commodities, on both the material and ideological-political levels. It offers theoretical depth and historical specificity to the concept ‘extractivism’ – a concept whose power is also played out in the struggles that peasant movements and socio-environmental organizations are leading throughout the world." - Carla Gras, Senior Researcher at the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET) in Argentina and coordinator of the Rural Studies and Globalization program at the Institute of Higher Social Studies, National University of San Martín (IDEAS-UNSAM).

"Agrarian extractivism in Latin America thoroughly explores how green paradises, sustainable fields, or productive crops can lead to extractive processes when they are linked to edible monocultures (soy, pineapple, sugarcane, oil palms), global extraction chains (green fuels), expert and technical knowledge that increases production (transgenic seeds), and unequal notions of sustainable development (symmetric forests). Agrarian extractivism leads to daily dispossessions and socio-environmental and intersectional inequalities, by erasing local people's realities, and creating toxic landscapes and unlivable futures. The book encourages us to rethink the agrarian contexts in Latin America. It opens possibilities to discover local political actions around food sovereignty that can transform the current social and environmental crises into a plural and diverse perspectives centered on the autonomy of producing food interconnected with territories, nonhumans, humans and life itself." - Astrid Ulloa, Professor, Universidad Nacional de Colombia.