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Extractivism is the exploitation of natural resources on a mass scale, creating significant economic profits for a few powerful people and corporations in the short term, but too often resulting in minimal benefits for the communities resources are found in; driver of displacement, health inequities, human rights violations, ecological degradation, and colonial violence - Columban Center, adapted by Michelle Xie [1]

Extractivism can be traced back more than 500 years all the way to the European colonial expansion. 

Examples of extractivism

The exploitation of people [2]

  • Exploitation for resources has appropriated human bodies in the form of slaves or, more recently, as labor-intensive workers.
  • Extractive projects are normally located near marginalized, poor, and racialized populations. These projects often diminish existing economic activities and disrupt community networks and social structures.
  • Extractive industries remove the land rights of people via cultural disruption and violence. There is sometimes an increase in prostitution and sexual violence in communities restructured by extractivism.

The exploitation of Latin America, Africa and Asia [3]

  • You can’t tell the history of many colonies without talking about the looting of minerals, metals, and other high-value resources. European crowns and later the United States looted resources in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
  • In the last 20 years, several governments in Latin America, Africa, and Asia have asserted national control over new forms of primary-production extractive industries.
  • Today, much of these countries experience the brunt of the climate crisis, and most are economically disadvantaged due to the exploitation that happened many years ago.

If you have any suggested revisions or additional resources to share related to the above content, please email them to kenzie@lehub.ca.

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