‘The things that white people work so hard to extract from the depths of the earth, minerals and oil, are not foods’, as shaman and Yanomami spokesperson Davi Kopenawa pointedly observes in The Falling Sky. Extraction has been historically associated with the removal of underground materials, whereas extractivism is a broader notion connoting a primarily white, colonial mode of accumulation of the West. For most Latin American countries, their natural wealth became their curse, permeating both the material and the symbolic realms. The extractive regime binds the environment and rules the lives of those subjugated to it by transforming them into mere commodities.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, rubber exemplified particularly well the devastating consequences of extractivism. Latex fulfilled the industrial dream of an ‘extraordinary substance’, the first material whose plasticity made it suitable to become everything else: waterproof garments, automobiles, communication infrastructure, mechanized warfare. Throughout its extraction boom, the Amazon Rainforest supplied around 60% of the world’s rubber demand. This hunger for rubber reflected the expanding omnipotence of global capitalism with ruinous consequences for the environment as well as for the local populations. During the overlooked genocide along the Putomayo River, according to John Tully, for every ton of rubber extracted and dispatched to the Global North, seven indigenous lives were lost.

The removal of large quantities of natural resources from the Global South has been foundational for meeting the increasing demand for goods of the centers of nascent capitalism. This logic never ceased and what one calls today neo-extractivism reproduces the colonial and subordinated condition of the so-called peripheral countries. Yet, this extractive rationality does not only secure the production of goods but extends itself to the production of knowledge and to the import of epistemic frameworks that explain local realities. Cognitive extractivism, claims Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, privileges the ‘center’ as the producer of theoretical and interpretative models whereas the ‘periphery’ remains relegated to the status of the illustrative case. Exported raw material are subsequently converted into concepts and shipped back to their places of provenance with added value.

The symposium seeks to examine and question the different modes of extractivism that have marred and marked the histories of Latin America and the Caribbean. The distinctive qualities of rubber (plasticity, isolation, expansivity, erasure) are the starting point for a contemporary inquiry of (neo)extractivism. Its political, environmental, cultural and social facets are to be analyzed, in particular as they are critically undertaken by literature and the visual arts. Artists and scholars will explore this mode of accumulation in its intimate relationship to the production and circulation of theory and cultural capital; to epistemicide and necropolitics; and to a restrictive worldview of ‘nature’ as an inert reservoir for economic exploitation.

In English

‘Las cosas que los blancos extraen de las profundidades de la tierra con tanta avidez, los minerales y el petróleo, no son alimentos’, denuncia el chamán y portavoz yanomami Davi Kopenawa en A queda do céu, palavras de um xamã yanomami. Mientras que la extracción se asocia por lo general a las actividades que remueven recursos naturales del suelo, el extractivismo hace referencia a un modo de acumulación colonial primordialmente blanco y occidental. Para la mayoría de los países latinoamericanos, la abundancia de riquezas naturales se convirtió en una de sus peores maldiciones, tanto en términos materiales como simbólicos. El régimen extractivista despoja al medio ambiente y transforma en mercancía a las vidas que gobierna.

A finales del siglo XIX y principios del XX, el caucho fue el caso paradigmático que mostró las consecuencias devastadoras del extractivismo. Con el látex se creyó alcanzar el sueño industrial de obtener una ‘sustancia extraordinaria’, el primer material cuya plasticidad lo hacía apto para convertirse en casi todo: prendas impermeables, automóviles, infraestructuras de comunicación, armamento de guerra. En el auge de la extracción del caucho, la selva amazónica abasteció alrededor del 60% de la demanda mundial. Esta fiebre extractivista reflejó la omnipotencia voraz del capitalismo global, así como sus efectos arrolladores para el medio ambiente y las poblaciones locales. Según John Tully, durante el genocidio del Putumayo, por cada tonelada de caucho extraída y enviada al Norte Global, se perdieron siete vidas indígenas.

La extracción en masa de recursos naturales del Sur Global fue fundamental para satisfacer la creciente demanda de bienes de los centros del capitalismo naciente. Esta lógica nunca cesó y lo que hoy se llama neoextractivismo reproduce la condición colonial y subordinada de los llamados países periféricos. Sin embargo, esta racionalidad extractiva no sólo se vincula a la producción de bienes sino que se extiende a la producción de conocimiento y a la importación de marcos epistémicos para analizar las realidades locales. El extractivismo cognitivo, afirma Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, privilegia al ‘centro’ como productor de modelos teóricos e interpretativos mientras que la ‘periferia’ queda relegada al estatus de ejemplo ilustrativo. La materia prima exportada se convierte luego en conceptos y se envía de vuelta a sus lugares de procedencia con un valor agregado.

Este simposio busca examinar y poner en cuestión los diferentes modos de extractivismo que han marcado las historias de América Latina y el Caribe. Las cualidades distintivas del caucho (plasticidad, aislamiento, expansividad, borrado) serán el punto de partida para un diálogo colectivo sobre el (neo)extractivismo. Se analizarán sus facetas políticas, medioambientales, culturales y sociales, en particular a partir de las formas en que son abordadas por la literatura y las artes visuales. Artistas y académicxs explorarán este modo de acumulación y sus entramados con la producción y circulación de teoría y capital cultural; el epistemicidio y la necropolítica; así como con el paradigma preponderante que considera a la ‘naturaleza’ un depósito inerte destinado a la explotación económica.

in English

The symposium includes the sound installation Radio Amoa hi by úuu collective (Lucas Maia, Victor Negri, Luiza Novaes, Lea Taragona)

13:30 Introduction
Delfina Cabrera, Ariadne Y. Collins, Marlon Miguel

14:00 – 14:40 Keynote
Alberto Acosta
Followed by a Q&A

15:00 Break

15:15 – 17:00 Panel I
Extractivism and Social Inequalities

Ariadne Collins (ICI Berlin / University of St Andrews)
Xenia Chiaramonte (ICI Berlin)
Barbara Göbel (Instituto Ibero-Americano)

17:00 Coffee Break

17:30 – 19:00 Panel II
Counter extractive Narratives

Luiza Novaes (PUC-Rio)
Gabriel Giorgi (NYU)
Mariana Simoni (FU Berlin)
Moderation: Delfina Cabrera

19:00 Break

19:30 Artist Talk
‘Ciné-Cipó: Cine-Liana at Amazon Tall Tower Observatory’
Barbara Marcel (Bauhaus-Universität Weimar)
In Conversation with Delfina Cabrera, Ariadne Y. Collins, Marlon Miguel

14:00 – 15:45 Panel III
Latex and Materialities

Hector Hoyos (Stanford University)
Delfina Cabrera (ICI Berlin)
Graciela Goldchluk (UNLP)

15:45 Coffee Break

16.30 – 18.15 Panel IV
Politics of Extraction

Marlon Miguel (ICI Berlin/CFCUL)
Jens Andermann (NYU)
Ximena Briceno (Stanford University)

18:15 Break

19:30 Artist Talk
Extracted Voices

Michelle Mattiuzzi (artist)
Susana de Sousa Dias (ULisboa)
In Conversation with Delfina Cabrera, Ariadne Y. Collins, Marlon Miguel

How to Attend
  • At the venue (registration required): Fully booked. Please add yourself to the waiting list, using the form below.
  • Livestream (no registration required): Public live stream on this page with the possibility to ask questions via chat.
With

Alberto Acosta
Jens Andermann
Ximena Briceno
Xenia Chiaramonte
Gabriel Giorgi
Barbara Göbel
Graciela Goldchluk
Hector Hoyos
Barbara Marcel
Michelle Mattiuzzi
Luiza Novaes
Mariana Simoni
Susana de Sousa Dias

The symposium includes the sound installation Radio Amoa hi by úuu collective (Lucas Maia, Victor Negri, Luiza Novaes, Lea Taragona)

Organized by

Organized by Delfina Cabrera, Ariadne Collins, and Marlon Miguel in collaboration with materia DLCL Focal Group (Stanford University)

Fully booked: Please register for waiting list
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