Contextualising Extractivism in Africa

  • Charmaine Pereira
  • Dzodzi Tsikata
Keywords: extractivim, resistance, alternatives, natural resources, actors, financialisation


This article contextualises the phenomenon of extractivism in Africa, exploring the extent to which the different meanings of extractivism in the literature contribute to an understanding of its gendered character. We argue that extractivism is embedded in the changing dynamics of contemporary capitalism and configured differently in diverse social formations, each with its particular history, state, class formation, political culture and practice, range of natural resources, and policies. Nevertheless, certain broad commonalities may be identified. We highlight four key themes that have been salient in the literature: 1) meanings and manifestations of extractivism; 2) the key actors involved; 3) responses and resistance; and 4) alternatives to extractivism expressed by feminist intellectuals and movements. The article points to the need for greater attention to African feminist analyses of context, women’s resistance to extractivism, their propositions for anti-capitalist alternatives, and the possibilities of transforming our economies, our social relations, and our relations to the natural world.