The cynical state: Forging extractivism, neoliberalism and development in governmental spaces

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Recent analyses of development and extractivism in Latin America discuss how neoliberal and post-neoliberal strategies under the political economy of resource extraction define the developmental trajectory of national regimes. As most accounts privilege the analysis of structural and historical conditions over everyday practices of state actors, this paper contributes to the discussion by explaining how extractivism and neoliberalism are shaped, reproduced and defended in governmental spaces, defining in this way the development path. On the basis of ethnography of the Peruvian state, in-depth interviews and an analysis of economic, environmental and pro-indigenous policies during 2000–2017, this paper analyses how under the development model of extractivism, governing elites deploy neoliberal or post-neoliberal development strategies and development tools while advancing contradictory development discourses. In this context, states are cynical because, despite progressive regulations and political discourses, everyday actions of governing elites reinforce institutional and ideological constraints on the effectiveness of rights. The promises of pro-indigenous and environmental social reforms are limited from their very formulation because the practices and imaginaries of governing elites are embedded in extractive structures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-76
Number of pages19
JournalThird World Quarterly
Issue number1
Early online date4 Oct 2019
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2020

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© 2019, © 2019 Global South Ltd.


  • Extractivism
  • post-neoliberalism
  • state ethnography


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