Valuation struggles in the Ecuadorian Amazon: Beyond indigenous people's responses to oil extraction



Conflicts resulting from oil extractivism can be seen as ecological and cultural distribution conflicts, and have involved Latin American indigenous movements attached to their land and environments as providers of livelihood and cultural identity. In Ecuador, some have argued that this has become a 'standard narrative', essentializing the struggles of indigenous people. And the various agreements found historically between indigenous people and large companies operating in their territories seem to legitimize such criticism. But how to understand the choices of indigenous groups, with incommensurable needs, values, and claims, in the presence of extractive projects involving incommensurable local outcomes? Through an analysis of the different claims of indigenous people who voted in favor of oil extraction projects in their territories in the ITT fields of the Ecuadorian Amazon, I show how oil extraction coupled with 'social compensation' might create non-conflictive, but problematic situations, rather than conflicts. Indeed, the perception of an incommensurable loss, related to ecological and cultural difference, does not necessarily translate into opposition to mining or drilling. This is especially important in countries where the right to prior consultation could legitimize the expansion of oil activities in indigenous territories.

Keywords: resource extraction in Latin America, prior consultation, oil conflicts, ecological and cultural difference, indigenous people, incommensurability of values

How to Cite: Dayot, J. (2023) “Valuation struggles in the Ecuadorian Amazon: Beyond indigenous people's responses to oil extraction”, Journal of Political Ecology. 30(1). doi: