New publication: "strata of the state: resource nationalism and vertical territory in bolivia"
If all goes well, this one will eventually be part of a special issue in Political Geography titled Earth Politics: Territorialization and the Subterranean, which I'm co-editing with Matthew Himley. Look for it in 2020.
Marston, A. (In Press) Strata of the State: Resource Nationalism and Vertical Territory in Bolivia. Political Geography. DOI: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2019.102040.
This paper examines the relationship between resource nationalism, state territorialization, and geological knowledge production in Bolivia. Focusing on two historical moments of post-revolutionary state-building – post-Independence (1825) and post-National Revolution (1952) - I show how the subterranean was produced as vertical state territory not only in law but also through science. By charting this history, I argue that anti-Indigenous racism was historically built into resource nationalism through ongoing collaborations between earth scientists and various iterations of the Bolivian state. In the post-Independence era, French naturalist Alcide d’Orbigny was hired by the nascent Bolivian state to produce the country's first geological map. His writings, which ranged from the geological to the ethnological, conceptually grafted Indigenous peoples to the surface of the earth while representing the subterranean as empty save for natural resources. In the post-National Revolution era, d’Orbigny's work reemerged as influential when it was taken up by both political theorists and geologists. Through a close examination of works from these two eras, I show how the subsoil became the rationalized realm of the state. I further suggest that the contemporary tension between state-led resource extraction and Bolivia's “plurinational” constitution, which pluralizes the nation and ostensibly supports Indigenous autonomy, can be understood as a spatial tension between the subterranean, which is held in perpetuity by the state, and the surface, which can be owned privately or communally and imbued with place-specific meanings. Although resource nationalism might appear to be a progressive effort to redistribute resource wealth, capable of countering the neoliberal privatization of decades prior, such extractive projects threaten Indigenous territorial rights, compromising the purportedly decolonial goals of the Plurinational State.
Excited that this article has finally come out - it has been in the works for over two years. You can follow the citation below to find it online.
Andrea Marston (2019) Vertical farming: tin mining and agro-mineros in Bolivia, The Journal of Peasant Studies, DOI: 10.1080/03066150.2019.1604511
Throughout Bolivia, collectives of small-scale miners known as ‘mining cooperatives’ have developed a reputation for cutthroat extractive practices that were shaped by neoliberal restructuring starting in the 1980s. Charting a history that starts at the turn of the twentieth century, this paper argues that cooperative mining in the tin belt of Northern Potosí has emerged as a vertical instantiation of small-holder farming practices that migrated, along with miners themselves, from surrounding indigenous ayllus. In the subterranean, however, these practices interacted with the legacies of tin mining, which was characterized by labor hierarchies that corresponded with vertical variation in ore quality. New social striations crystallized as small-holder farming customs settled into the subterranean structure, creating sharp social differentiation across these subsoil‘family farms.’ The class composition of mining cooperatives at the national level has been shaped by these entangled underground histories, with implications for the country’s economic and environmental futures.
Two New publications
Two papers that have been in the pipeline for a while have just come out:
The first is an invited review article that examines the state of scholarship about water and mining, while the second is a piece coauthored with Tom Perreault about the role of Bolivian mining cooperatives in maintaining an extractivist hegemony in highland Bolivia.
Speaking of an extractivist hegemony, here's a photo from biennial national meeting of mining cooperatives held in September 2016, in the wake of Deputy Minister of the Interior Rodolfo Illanes's violent death at the hands of miners. This was an important meeting because cooperative miners were rethinking their political stance while taking stock of their losses, which include a few dozen imprisoned compañeros and the overthrow of their previous leadership:
PhD Candidate, Geography, UC Berkeley