Synopses & Reviews
Ecuador is the third-largest foreign supplier of crude oil to the western United States. As the source of this oil, the Ecuadorian Amazon has borne the far-reaching social and environmental consequences of a growing U.S. demand for petroleum and the dynamics of economic globalization it necessitates. Crude Chronicles
traces the emergence during the 1990s of a highly organized indigenous movement and its struggles against a U.S. oil company and Ecuadorian neoliberal policies. Against the backdrop of mounting government attempts to privatize and liberalize the national economy, Suzana Sawyer shows how neoliberal reforms in Ecuador led to a crisis of governance, accountability, and representation that spurred one of twentieth-century Latin Americaandrsquo;s strongest indigenous movements.
Through her rich ethnography of indigenous marches, demonstrations, occupations, and negotiations, Sawyer tracks the growing sophistication of indigenous politics as Indians subverted, re-deployed, and, at times, capitulated to the dictates and desires of a transnational neoliberal logic. At the same time, she follows the multiple maneuvers and discourses that the multinational corporation and the Ecuadorian state used to circumscribe and contain indigenous opposition. Ultimately, Sawyer reveals that indigenous struggles over land and oil operations in Ecuador were as much about reconfiguring national and transnational inequalityandmdash;that is, rupturing the silence around racial injustice, exacting spaces of accountability, and rewriting narratives of national belongingandmdash;as they were about the material use and extraction of rain-forest resources.
andldquo;Crude Chronicles seamlessly weaves the compelling richness of an exceptional ethnographic account with the power of a story well told. By chronicling the history of the ongoing contest that has characterized the politics of petroleum in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Sawyer brilliantly illustrates the imbricated process by which indigenous and neoliberal geophraphies are configured and reconfigured in the process of making nature, nation, and citizens. Crude Chronicles will surely become a key reference point in future debates about the cultural politics of nature.andrdquo;andmdash;Peter Brosius, University of Georgia
andquot;Crude Chronicles is a splendid example of fine-grained ethnography. It illustrates in many ways why this approach continues to be the hallmark of anthropology. The best feature of the book is the lovingly detailed descriptions and close-to-the-ground analysis of dialogue and events. It will be mandatory reading for Latin Americanists interested in social movements, especially the indigenous and environmentalist movements, and of course, students of Ecuadorian politics.andrdquo;andmdash;Jean E. Jackson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ethnographic study of indigenous opposition to processes of economic globalization, arguing that neoliberal economic reforms both provoked a crisis of governance and created the conditions for a disruptive indigenous movement in Ecuador.
About the Author
Suzana Sawyer is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Davis.