Paper short abstract:
This paper demonstrates how, following the departure of a U.S. Air Force base from Ecuador in 2009, U.S. security logics were re-purposed to managed dissent around civilian development projects in the extractive sector.
Paper long abstract:
Ecuador is currently in the midst of a thoroughgoing political-economic transformation that has involved a wholesale rejection of Washington-led neoliberal orthodoxy and U.S.-led militarization. A key component of this transition has been the augmentation of national military and police forces, particularly around oil and mining projects. Taken together, these trends reveal a paradox: Following the eviction of a U.S. Air Force base in 2009, a new wave of state-led security crack-downs on those engaged in the contestation of extractive development projects has extended and even intensified military logics first developed in the United States. This paper challenges Loic Wacquant's conceptualization of the relationship between the Left and Right hands of the state by demonstrating how, following the departure of the base, U.S. security logics have migrated and been re-purposed. The research draws on ethnographic fieldwork conducted both before and after the start of the transition - first, with U.S. Air Force personnel involved in rural development before the eviction of the base, and second, with environmental activists subject to the state's growing criminalization of dissent around extractive projects in the years since. The central argument is that the Ecuadorian state's explicit rejection of U.S.-led militarization has been accompanied by an ongoing - if considerably quieter - importation of U.S. military models, logics, and techniques in the managing of dissent around development projects. Attention to these dynamics both de-centers and localises Wacquant's model, posing questions about the relationship between military 'security' and civilian 'development' in post-neoliberal Ecuador.
Soldier, security, society: ethnographies of civil-military entanglements