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Please register to participate at the Extractivism Annual International Conference 2022

Raw Materials, the Global South, and Development in the 21st Century

Mobilizing Rents, Grasping Extractivist Societies

Conference Theme

Extractivism shapes many countries’ economic and social realities in the Global South as more than 100 countries have specialized in the extraction and exportation of different raw materials throughout the decades. This development model is rent-led, as the society becomes dependent on the revenues based on exploiting nature rather than on innovation, investment, diversification, and learning. That means that these countries have their social relations locked by structures created by extractivism, mostly specializing only in generating and appropriating rent. This dynamic has devastating consequences for both the population and the environment. Unfortunately, the vast majority of extractivist societies in the Global South have not escaped from a development trap: how to generate economic growth and transformation without becoming utterly dependent on floating rents and endangering the well-being of its population and the possibilities of a sustainable future. This trap is the initial observation and the starting point for this year’s annual conference.

We part from the idea that extractivist societies have complex and distinct dynamics from those countries and societies that organize their social relations based on profit, labor productivity, or wages. The idea we want to explore in this conference is how and in what ways societies specializing in extracting and exporting raw materials reproduce themselves primarily through the revenues obtained by selling them to the global market. Within a rent-based model, access to and distribution of export revenues is crucial for the political influence of power coalitions and the livelihoods of broader population segments. Understanding the complexities of rent and its effects on people’s lives will be one of the major challenges we will face – as a scholarly community as well as part of global societies.

Rents are prone to crisis. If export prices for raw materials change (as is currently the case in the COVID-19 crisis), this can promote instability within countries’ domestic sphere. Furthermore, extractivism and rents are directly linked with the provocation, escalation, and transmission of international crises, as the 2022 Ukraine-Russia conflict persuasively demonstrates. Finally, socio-ecological transformations and the drive towards sustainability within the Global North open the discussion concerning the price we want to pay for a greener future – as the push for renewable energy can provoke several readjustments or even, counterintuitively, further deepen extractivism in the Global South. In a pessimistic scenario, this translates into recurrent domestic and international crises within a growingly uneven global system in which extractivism as a development model proves to be resilient to change. Conversely, in a more optimistic scenario, this awakens the potential for domestic and international transformations that renovate or even eventually overcome extractivism.

Independently, in both scenarios, rents’ political, economic, and social roles are decisive. Opportunities for channeling and leveraging rents are crucial for accelerating or shielding social change. Focusing our lenses on Latin America and the Middle East, it is noticeable that many powerful actors aimed, one way or another, to channel rents into development. Unfortunately, most of them failed miserably, as demonstrated by the rise and fall of the ‘pink tide’ in Latin America. Others, such as Saudi Arabia and Algeria, have initiated far-reaching state-led programs to transform future social and economic structures, offering, so far, only mixed results. In order to take this discussion further and enable us to compare different cases from the Global South, we first need to grasp how extractivist societies can be conceptualized. What is the appropriate theoretical and methodological toolkit for researching the dynamics of extractivist societies? How can we include the many specific dynamics such as articulation of economic, political, and social structures, the political behavior of power groups, alliances, and coalitions, and the cultural expression, social practices, and habitus?

This conference discusses the leverage of rent in extractivist societies. We aim to reconceptualize the theoretical relationship between extractivism and rents and stimulate deeper analyses concerning the particular and nuanced types of rent-led development trajectories. The goal is to identify different configurations in which rents either dynamize social change or contribute to the resilience of extractivism. It concerns established approaches in Social Sciences (e.g., approaches of neo-extractivism; rentier state and rent theories; foreign trade theories; historical and ethnological findings) but, at the same time, contributes to an ongoing interdisciplinary exchange between the broader field of political economy, and neighboring disciplines such as Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, and Cultural Studies.

Therefore, the following questions are of particular interest:

  • Are there local, national, and area-specific particularities and/or transregional differences of extractivism?
  • How are rents and extractivism connected? What are the international and domestic links between rents and extractivism?
  • Why is extractivism so persistent in world history? Why did it change, and how did some countries reach to abandon extractivism?
  • What role do political, economic, social, and cultural factors play in the change and the persistence of extractivism?

Conference Program

Venue: Golden Tulip Hotel Reiss, Kassel
Wednesday, 12.10.2022, 13-14h

Kai Ruffing (Dean of the Faculty of Social Science, University of Kassel): Extractivist Societies in Historical Perspective
Hans-Jürgen Burchardt (University of Kassel)/Rachid Ouaissa (Philipps-University of Marburg)/Hannes Warnecke-Berger (University of Kassel): Rent, Society, and the Dark Side of Sustainability

Venue: Golden Tulip Hotel Reiss, Kassel
Wednesday, 12.10.2022, 15-17h

Eva Paus (Mount Holyoke College): International Political Economy of Rent and Extractivism
Hannes Warnecke-Berger (University of Kassel): Towards a Surplus Approach of Rent
Dirk Loehr (FH Trier): Land – The Hidden Redistribution Machine
Balihar Sanghera (University of Kent)/Elmira Satybaldieva (University of Kent): Rentier Capitalism and its Countermovements: The Moral Economy Perspective

Chair: Katrin Metzger (University of Kassel); Discussant: Luíza Cerioli (University of Kassel)

Venue: Gießhaus University of Kassel, Central Campus
Wednesday, 12.10.2022, 18-20h

James Mahon (Williams College): Are Extractivist Societies too Rich to Prosper?

Chair: Hans-Jürgen Burchardt (University of Kassel)

Venue: Golden Tulip Hotel Reiss, Kassel
Thursday, 13.10.2022, 9-11h

Fatiha Talahite (CNRS/University of Paris Nanterre): Criticism of Rent Theories and the Coloniality of Extractivism: The case of Algeria
Markus Kröger (University of Helsinki, EXALT): Extractivist Rents, Development and the End of Cheap Commodities
Martin Beck (University of Kurdistan Hewlêr)/Thomas Richter (GIGA Hamburg): State, Class, and Autonomy in Hydrocarbon Societies: A Revival
Juan Kornblihtt (Conicet / ICI-UNGS/ FFyL-UBA): Ground Rent Appropriation, Extractivism or Natural Capital Depletion? Quantitative evidence from South America following Marx’s critique of political economy

Chair: Meret Jacob-Lakrimdi (Philipps-University of Marburg); Discussant: Rachid Ouaissa (Philipps-University of Marburg)

Venue: Golden Tulip Hotel Reiss, Kassel
Thursday, 13.10.2022, 11-13h

Richard Saunders (York University): Domestic Actors, Resource Nationalism Politics and the Redefining of Extractivism in Southern Africa
Jessie Moritz (Australian National University): Researching Citizen Activism: A Society-Centric Approach to Rents & Development
Rafael Dominguez (University of Cantabria): Rents, Extractivism, and Resource Nationalism in Colombia and Ecuador

Chair: Luíza Cerioli (University of Kassel); Discussant: Camila Ponce Lara (Philipps-University of Marburg)

Venue: Golden Tulip Hotel Reiss, Kassel
Thursday, 13.10.2022, 14-16h

Amir Lebdioui (London School of Economics): The Political Economy of Managing Resource Rents for Economic Diversification: International Experiences
Sambit Bhattacharyya (University of Sussex): Oil Discovery, Boom-Bust Cycle, and Manufacturing Slowdown: Evidence from a Large Industry Level Dataset
Juan Pablo Jimenez (FLACSO Argentina): Tax Regimes and Natural Resource Rents

Chair: Marlen Ott (University of Kassel); Discussant: Hannes Warnecke-Berger (University of Kassel)

Venue: Golden Tulip Hotel Reiss, Kassel
Thursday, 13.10.2022, 16-18h

Mourad Ouchichi (Abderrahmane Mira de Bejaia, Algeria): Rentier Capitalism in Algeria
Sajjad Faraji Dizaji (Tarbiat Modares University, Iran): Oil Rents and Middle Class in Iran and the Maghreb
Moustapha Taleb Heidi (Centre de Recherches de l’Ouest Saharien, Nouakchott): Artisanal Mining and Extractivism in Mauretania

Chair: Camila Ponce Lara (Philipps-University of Marburg); Discussant: Meret Jacob-Lakrimdi (University of Marburg)

Venue: Golden Tulip Hotel Reiss, Kassel
Friday, 14.10.2022, 9-11h

Pedro Alarcón (Justus-Liebig-University Gießen): “Reloaded Extractivism”: Rent, the State, and the Energy Transition in Ecuador
Julieta Godfrid (Autonomous University of Chile): Corporate Social Responsibility and Mining Extractivism in Chile
Jochen Kemner (CALAS): Energy, Fossil Fuels, and Raw Material Regimes in Latin America in the Longue Durée

Chair: Rebeca Ramos (CALAS, University of Kassel); Discussant: Katrin Metzger (University of Kassel)

Venue: Golden Tulip Hotel Reiss, Kassel
Friday, 14.10.2022, 11-13h

Conference Venues



Conference Registration

Please register to participate at our Extractivism Annual International Conference 2022 through the event management tool of the University of Kassel. For further information, don’t hesitate to contact us at