Campus Only Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
© 2011 Samuel I. Pashall
In 1993 Ecuadorian-American lawyers filed a class-action suit, Maria Aguinda vs. Texaco, Inc., in New York on behalf of 30,000 Indigenous peoples and poor mestizo (mixed race) farmers. The lawsuit alleges that Texaco negligently released toxic petroleum waste into the environment while using outdated equipment and methods that saved $3-4 per barrel (Sawyer 2007: 69). The ramifications of Texaco´s actions, the suit claims, are extensive environmental and health damages. Generally the media has portrayed Aguinda vs. Texaco, Inc. in economic terms. This paper, on the other hand, explores the hegemonic forces (the State, modernization theory and essentialism) that serve to excuse contaminating the Northeastern Ecuadorian Amazon (el Oriente). Those forces help explain how and why private (i.e. Texaco, Inc.) and public (i.e. the Ecuadorian State) institutions devastated the environment and people of the el Oriente for three decades before facing widespread scrutiny. Contrary to popular opinion, a judgment in favor of the plaintiffs would not ensure an end to further ethnocide in el Oriente. For that to occur, a much deeper reconceptualization of hegemonic power relations, which promotes plurinationalism and multiple modernities must accompany a judicial verdict.
Pashall, Samuel, "Contesting Hegemony?: Postcolonial Struggles for Justice in Aguinda v. Texaco, Inc." (2011). Pitzer Senior Theses. 115.
This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.