Energy Café on the infrastructures that make the extractive frontier: Urarina life-worlds in the Amazonian oil complex, Peru
Oil extraction has been at the basis of the political economy of the northern Peruvian Amazon ever since the boom that followed the construction of the North Peruvian Oil Pipeline in the 1970s, which connected what were then very remote sites of extraction to the pacific coast. The development of oil extraction in the ensuing decades has produced a socio-ecological landscape characterised by several contradictory tendencies: a reshaping of the state – its political geography and relation to civil society – by the inflow of oil rents; widespread and deepening socio-ecological dislocations brought about by the industry; and the transformation of indigenous territorialities and political subjectivities as they navigate the subsumption of their life-worlds under the planetary geography of fossil energy and capital.
This seminar will look at the case of a Urarina community in the region of Loreto, Perú, and the continuities and breaks in their spatial and cultural strategies, as they negotiate their place in the unstable contemporary geographies of fossil fuel extraction. Some of the questions the seminar intends to raise are those of the overlapping value systems, temporalities, and geographies that converge in the shaping of extractive frontiers, the multiple political and cosmological meanings its infrastructures acquire as they transverse and hold together disparate cultural universes under the imperative of capital accumulation, as well the local experience of radical uncertainty entailed in the contemporary conditions of fossil fuel extraction in the region.