The forgotten case of Esmeraldas : perceptions of contamination and collective action in an Ecuadorian refinery town

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Date

2011-12

Authors

Engelman, Lindsey Tamar

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Abstract

Although much national and international attention has been given to the disastrous effects of oil spills in indigenous, Amazonian communities, virtually nothing is known about the effects of oil refinement, storage and shipping that takes place in the urban, largely Afro-descendent communities of Esmeraldas. This work addresses the near disregard of environmental suffering and injustice experienced by people in Esmeraldas and provides an understanding of both their resistance and acquiescence to the burdens created by the oil economy. I look at how these perspectives feed (and do not feed) collective action to demand protections from the environmental harms of the refinery and other industrial facilities in the area. In addition to exploring questions of mobilization, my hope is that this work gives voice to the environmental suffering in the city of Esmeraldas and that it adds to a growing body of work that considers the urban environmental suffering in Latin America.

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