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Extractivism in Comparison: Reflections on Trans-Regional Research Concepts and Methods

CrossArea e.V. Annual Conference, 24/25 November 2022, University of Kassel

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The growing demand for raw materials indicates that extractivism will continue to shape many societies’ political, social, economic, and cultural developments in the Global South. The drive towards sustainability in the Global North seems to deepen extractivism in the Global South with the emergence of new “greener” raw materials such as lithium and copper. Extractivism impacts international relations and drives international conflicts, as the war against Ukraine underlines. Within weeks, many countries not only in Europe started bracing themselves for supply shortages, reviewing some of their partnerships, and promoting debates about resource dependency, energy transition, and national security. In a nutshell: extractivism is a global phenomenon, and understanding and explaining extractivism remains a challenge for cross-area studies, mainly because the way extractivism is approached varies significantly from region to region, both scientifically and politically.

(Cross-) area studies, on their part, are currently challenged to integrate seemingly global processes. The COVID-19 pandemic made once more apparent that the world is entangled in a global condition, and events in one location rapidly affect all other connecting locations. However, reactions to the pandemic diverged, as did the effects of the pandemic. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has also clarified this global interconnectedness. Both events challenge current theoretical and methodological approaches to (cross-)area studies. They support a renewed discussion on their current state, methodological tools, and future academic role in the research landscape.

For this reason, this workshop will address the possibilities and limitations of the methodological toolbox of (cross-)area studies and global comparisons. Based on this discussion, the workshop takes extractivism as an entry point into discussing the depth of similar patterns of social change in different world regions.

The Venue

The workshop will take place at Senatssaal at the main campus of University of Kassel, Mönchebergstraße 3, 34127 Kassel, statt.