© 2017 Elsevier Ltd The indigenous-influenced policies of Evo Morales's Bolivia represent arguably the most important attempt to improve the socioenvironmental implications of resource extraction in recent years, reasserting the role of the state and social movements against ‘corporate-led governance’. In this paper, through combining the regulation approach with neo-Gramscian state theory, I carry out a conceptually informed analysis of struggles over hydrocarbon governance in Bolivia, in order to shed light on the reasons why such an ambitious political project has largely failed to realise its transformative potential. I make two interrelated arguments. First, initial, important advances in the governance of resources in Bolivia were later partially reversed, due to shifting power relations between social movements, the hydrocarbon industry, and the state. This points to the need of understanding resource governance and its changes as reflecting or ‘condensing’ shifting power relationships among social forces. Second, the coming to power of Evo Morales resulted in a ‘passive-revolutionary’ process whereby an initial radical break with the neoliberal order was followed by a gradual adaptation to pre-existing political economic relations and arrangements. Most notably, plans to reduce the country's dependency on gas exports as well as to challenge the transnational domination of the hydrocarbon sector were abandoned, generating an increasingly explicit incompatibility with indigenous demands. I conclude that neo-Gramscian theory offers important insights that enable us to advance our conceptualisation of the state in resource governance research and in political ecology more generally.
- Indigenous movements
- Political ecology
- Strategic-relational approach