Researchers from Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA), at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), and other universities have published a special section in the journal Ecological Economics that analyzes the link between ecological economics and political ecology. This issue stems from the institute’s research on impacts and resistance at the “commodity frontiers”, where the extraction of natural resources and the disposal of toxic wastes produce a range of economic, environmental, cultural and social conflicts.
The special issue, titled Social Metabolism, Ecological Distribution Conflicts, and Valuation Languages, comprises ten articles. The first (by M.C. Vallejo, from FLACSO Ecuador) presents the material flows of Ecuador and the resulting socio-environmental conflicts caused by these flows. Three other articles, by Leire Urkidi, Martí Orta, Duygu Avcı, Begüm Özkaynak and their co-authors, are focused on the extractive industries of mining and oil (in Chile, Turkey and Peru). Four articles centre on biomass conflicts: from soy plantations in Paraguay and the North of Argentina (Nancy Arzipe), the viability of Jatropha Curcas in Tamil Nadu, India (Pere Ariza), indigenous struggles against deforestation in the Queen Charlotte Islands, Canada (Louise Takeda) and the conflicts born from the export of timber in the South of Cameroon (S. Veuthey and J.F. Gerber). Finally, waste disposal conflicts are presented: Federico Demaria on the export of ships sent to be dismantled in Gujarat, India and salvaged for other metals; and an article by Giacomo d’Alisa and co-authors on the domestic waste crisis in Campania, Italy.
According to the editors, ICTA-UAB researchers Joan Martínez-Alier, Giorgos Kallis, Sandra Veuthey, Mariana Walter and Leah Temper, this special section offers a range of theoretical frameworks and methodologies culled from ecological economics, industrial ecology, environmental sociology, economic geography and political ecology that help explain the causes of the increasing number of resource extraction and waste disposal conflicts and to understand them in a historical perspective.