Thea Riofrancos

Ph.D. Candidate in Comparative Politics and Political Theory

Dissertation Title: Contesting Extraction: State-making, Democracy and Large Scale Mining in Ecuador

Dissertation Committee: Tulia Falleti (chair), Robert Vitalis, Anne Norton, Erica Simmons (University of Wisconsin)

Dissertation Summary: In a historic shift, indigenous and environmentalist groups in Ecuador resist what they call "extractivism": the resource-dependent development model. Across Latin America, the expanding extractive frontier has fomented conflict. But protest in Ecuador is unique in intensity and scale. Under what conditions—and with what consequences—did resource extraction become the site of political conflict? Based on fourteen months of fieldwork, I argue that the discourse of “anti-extractivism” institutionalized due to a critical juncture—the inauguration of leftist President Correa (2007-present), the rewriting of the Constitution (2007-2008), and the expansion of large scale mining—that drove a wedge between Correa and social movements. Understanding the conditions under which discourses such as anti-extractivism institutionalize gives us insight into how and when discourse shapes policy and institutional design. This project engages scholarship on regional patterns of state-formation, democratic governance, contentious politics, and resource extraction.

University of Pennsylvania
208 S. 37th Street, Room 217
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6215
Phone: (215) 898-7641

Edward Mansfield Chair
Matthew Levendusky Graduate Chair
John Lapinski Undergraduate Chair