Malvika Gupta is an activist-scholar and is currently doing her D.Phil at the department of international development at the University of Oxford. Her doctoral thesis examines alternative imaginations of statehood in a comparative perspective through a study of the relation between Indigenous politics and the state in Ecuador and India. This relationship is examined primarily through the lens of extractivism and education. She has worked on Indigenous issues in India and Latin America (Peru, Honduras) as a practitioner and researcher, and has published several articles on it. Two most recent ones are: https://www.sapiens.org/culture/kalinga-institute-of-social-sciences/ and
Her M.Phil. research, undertaken at the University of Delhi, was based on an analysis of India’s Indigenous education policy since Independence in 1947.
Extraction Education in Indigenous India and Ecuador: a new mode of assimilation?
Extraction education (Walker, 2018) denotes an ideology of industrialisation predicated on unsustainable extraction of ‘natural resources’ from indigenous territories, imposed through schools that extract and alienate children from their land and communities. It explains how extractive industries are funding ‘education for, through and as extraction’, in other words funding schools not just as a means to gain legitimacy, but also to bring about a rapid change of mindset and values for Indigenous youth, likely to turn them into willing workers as well as to undermine movements against extraction. If extractivism is ‘re-engineering’ education in a ‘developed’ country such as Canada, how does one understand the momentous influence of this extractivism-education nexus on Indigenous children in ‘developing countries’ such as India and Ecuador, not just in how they understand the world, but also as ‘future people’ (Watene 2011) in how they operate in it, leading productive lives in an economy increasingly dominated by extractivism? Extractivism dominates the economy in the Andean countries (Peru, Bolivia and more recently Ecuador), as in several states in central India that have large tribal populations as well as extensive mineral deposits (Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand). It gives rise to an overarching ideology that emphasizes material progress. The ‘neoextractivism’ promoted by the Ecuadorean state uses revenues from extractive projects to fund social welfare ‘for the people’. In this, its exponents claim it differs fundamentally from externally opposed neoliberal policies. Yet critics of Ecuador’s neoextractivism, say that as ‘a mechanism of colonial and neocolonial plunder and appropriation’ (Acosta 2013: 63), it continues an economic policy and use of natural resources that started in colonial times and has expanded vastly since the 1990s – as in India and other countries. At the same time, Indigenous movements in the Andean countries have often confronted assimilationist discourse head-on. In Peru (as in Ecuador and Bolivia), while ‘liberal legality recognises indigenous peoples as ethnic minorities with property entitlements… self-determination goes a step further to recognise indigenous peoples as “nations” with “territorial rights” ‘(Acuña, 2015). For example, Buen vivir, as a ‘formulation related to indigenous politics cannot be epistemologically assimilated by human development or other more conventional approaches because it transcends the boundaries of the current political economy’ (Moreno 2016).
Based on multi-sited fieldwork in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha in India; and Azuay and Pastaza in Ecuador, the paper theorises extraction education and fleshes out four different models of the nexus between extractivism and education in these two contexts, with varying degrees and nature of Indigenous politics but a shared pursuit of increasing economic growth through extractivism. A historical lens is used to show how the large, mining-funded boarding schools for tribal children in India reconfigure the ‘industrial’ and other residential schools for indigenous children throughout North America and Australia late between late 19th and 20th centuries, as well as the assimilationism they embodied. I argue that in the guise of corporate philanthropy extractive industries in India and an extractive state in Ecuador are drilling an industrial ideology into Indigenous youth; fueling philanthrocapitalism to serve the
modern economic extraction complex; and re-enacting the civilizing mission of colonial empires.
Affiliation: University of Oxford