Spring 2021

States of Extraction: Nature, Women, and World Politics

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-307  |  Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies, as SWAG-307


Manuela Picq (Section 01)


(Offered as POSC 307 and SWAG 307) The global energy boom has increased states’ dependency on commodities across the world. From the Arctic to the Amazon, nation-states are putting large territories up for sale in an effort to turn nature into ‘quick cash.’ The unparalleled levels of extraction are accompanied by unparalleled violence against women, with levels of femicide on the rise in most of the world. Governments have expanded the extractive frontier, mining highlands, damming rivers, and clearing forests without prior consultation. As ecosystems are collapsing, contaminated and set ablaze, nature defenders activate social resistance to defend their territories, lifeways and nature. Many of these defenders are women, who are fighting the commodification of nature as well as their own bodies and work. We analyze the extraction of resources in nature and women as two sides of a coin, positing the fight against the climate crisis and gender equality as complementary processes.

This class offers an activist approach to study political ecology with a gender lens. We analyze the politics of extraction at large: the class discusses water struggles and extractive industries like oil and agribusiness from the Philippines to Peru, Indigenous resistance on the ground and the legal advocacy pushing for the rights of nature framework. We use the work of feminist economists like Silvia Federici and analyze the leadership of women defenders like Berta Caceres to explore the ways in which extraction of nature and bodies are fundamental aspects of capitalist states. The course engages theoretical tools and comparative perspectives to grasp current debates in political ecology, gender studies, and indigenous politics to help students identify alternatives for the future. It also seeks to foster a critical inquiry to bridge lasting divides between academia and activism in local and global contexts.

Requisite: Political Science majors must have taken two prior courses in POSC. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

If Overenrolled: Priority first given to POSC and SWAG seniors majors, then to a balance of sophomores and juniors, randomly determined, followed by first-year students and 5-college students


Attention to Speaking, Attention to Writing


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021