Spring 2024

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. One must be a 200 level or above. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Karl Loewenstein Senior Lecturer Picq.

How to handle overenrollment: 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

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Students should expect to encounter an emphasis on written work, readings, group work, independent research, and oral presentations.

POSC 307 - LEC

Section 01
Tu 1:00 PM - 3:45 PM MORG 110

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
The Water Defenders: How Ordinary People Saved a Country from Corporate Greed Beacon Press Robin Broad and John Cavanagh Amherst Books TBD
Witches, witch-hunting, and women PM Press Silvia Federici Amherst Books TBD
The Politics of Rights of Nature: Strategies for Building a More Sustainable Future MIT Press Craig Kauffman and Pamela Martin Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.