Access, engagement, suppression, and empowerment: a political ecology of voice (PEV) study into Peruvian citizen ability and willingness to report Petroperu environmental pollution incidents

Adrian Gonzalez

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis has explored how effectively citizens and other stakeholders (community-based organisations (CBOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs)) in Peru’s Loreto Region have been able to hold the oil company Petroperu accountable for environmental pollution. To do this, a theoretical framework called the political ecology of voice (PEV) has been developed which can be defined as an investigation into a specific temporal political, economic, social, and geographical environment in which citizens and other stakeholders voice over an environmental issue. Semi-structured interviews were concentrated predominantly on two oil-based communities; Barrio Florido adjacent to the Iquitos refinery, and Cuninico situated near the North Peruvian oil pipeline. The PEV theoretical framework has revealed many fascinating issues within the Loreto Region. Poor rural development, economic poverty, political disinterest and racialised class consciousness mean that both communities lack access to state institutions or their representatives to voice. Meanwhile, Petroperu strictly controls their access and relationship which resulted in no means of communication for Cuninico prior to a 2014 oil spill and limited dialogue for Barrio Florido. Citizen poverty and their economic dependency on Petroperu has also strengthened its power and influence over these communities allowing them to establish a climate of fear thus weakening citizen willingness to voice. For CBO/NGO state/resource extraction industry (REI) access and engagement, this can be positively co-operative (stemming from the former’s mutual aims and/or conciliatory support) or negatively obstructive (resulting from the former’s scrutiny-based voice) with those in the latter affected through state-orchestrated anti-NGO rhetoric and REI fragmentation of indigenous federations. Despite this, these actors perform many useful educational and accountability based roles which strengthen citizen voice. However, their involvement does not always guarantee success due to their own visions which can impact their representation of citizen voice. Overall, the PEV environment for Loreton stakeholders can be described as restrictive, intolerant and suppressive, particularly for citizens who must rely on the support of collective voice actors to hold REIs accountable for pollution.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Simon, David, Supervisor
  • Mistry, Jay, Advisor
Award date1 Nov 2017
Publication statusUnpublished - 16 Oct 2017


  • political ecology of voice (PEV)
  • Albert Hirschman
  • EXIT
  • Peru
  • Loreto
  • oil pollution
  • oil development
  • protest
  • Dialogue

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