Frictions in the oil space

Special report. Grounded companies and the role of states
Entrepreneurial discipline, village appropriations, and normalization of a frontier society (Peruvian Amazon)
By Doris Buu-Sao

The encounter of indigenous peoples with mining or oil companies is often seen through the prism of confrontation. While the frequency of disputes is undeniable, particularly in Latin America, the interactions arising from the establishment of extractive industries in rural areas cannot be reduced to head-on opposition: because they are necessarily grounded in territories where they have to deal with their social environment, these industries often give rise to more mundane and peaceful interactions that bring about profound changes. This is the subject of this article, which is based on an ethnographic survey carried out in Peru, in indigenous villages in the Amazon facing the development of an emblematic oil site in the region. It questions how this locally grounded extractive industry contributes to the normalization of a border society. Taking into account the relational nature of the interactions that take place around extractive sites, it conceptualizes this political topography as an “oil space” where profound but ambivalent transformations take place, whether it be the importation of wage discipline into productive practices, the hierarchical restructuring of the village collective, or the inclusion in the national territorial order that is conducive to a certain commodification of Amazonian land.

  • oil extraction
  • Peruvian Amazon
  • CSR
  • indigenous peoples
  • normalization
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