Penelope Fay Anthias

Penelope Fay Anthias

Assistant professor

Current research

My research interests lie at the interface between evolving forms of governmentality, situated struggles for postcolonial recognition, and new frontiers of capitalist resource extraction. I explore these interfaces through ethnographic research on indigenous territorial claims in Bolivia.

My doctoral and postdoctoral research, published in my new book Limits to Decolonization (Cornell University Press, 2018), examined the policy-formation, on-the-ground implementation, and legacies of a World Bank-financed indigenous land titling programme in Bolivia. Based on a decade of ethnographic research in the gas-rich Chaco region, the book traces how indigenous Native Community Land claims have been undermined by two interlinked sets of dynamics: historically sedimented articulations of race, property, and power, and the territorial and political dynamics of hydrocarbon development. I explore how indigenous peoples are rethinking their visions of territory and autonomy in response to these limits, including through new forms of "hydrocarbon citizenship" which link territorial autonomy to control of gas rents.

My current research project, Hydrocarbon Autonomies, examines more broadly how territory, authority and citizenship are being reconfigured and remapped in the Bolivian Chaco at the intersection of an extractivist economy and competing visions of a Plurinational State. I am also co-editing a Special Issue entitled "Ethnicity, Territory, Governmentality", which examines how colonial and postcolonial ethno-governmental projects are contested, appropriated, and reworked by local populations in a range of global contexts.  

I am currently involved in three collaborative research projects: Rule and Rupture (2016-2020), led by Christian Lund, as a postdoc; Leaks: Resource Enclaves and Unintended Flows in Latin America (2018-2022), with Mattias Rasmussen and Stine Krøijer, as a postdoc; and Territory-Making as World-Making (2018-2022), with Mario Blaser and Cristina Rojas, as a collaborator.

My work contributes to debates on territory, property and citizenship; neoliberal and post-neoliberal governance; and the political ecology of extraction.


Selected publications


2018, Limits to Decolonization: Indigeneity, Territory, and Hydrocarbon Politics in the Bolivian Chaco. Cornell University Press.


Forthcoming, ‘Indigenous peoples and the new extraction: from territorial rights to hydrocarbon citizenship in the Bolivian Chaco’. Special issue ‘Open Veins Revisited’ N. Fabricant (ed.) Latin American Perspectives.

2017, ‘Ch’ixi landscapes: Indigeneity and Capitalism in the Bolivian Chaco’. Special issue ‘Rendering Land Investable’ J.E. Goldstein and J.S. Yates (eds.) Geoforum.

2015, ‘The ethno-environmental fix and its limits: indigenous land titling and the production of not-quite-neoliberal natures in Bolivia’, with Sarah A. Radcliffe. Special issue 'Not quite neoliberal natures' C. de Freitas, A.J. Marston and K. Bakker (eds.) Geoforum.

Book chapters:

2012, ‘Regulación ambiental de los hidrocarburos en el Campo Margarita, Tarija’. In Peralta y Hollenstein (eds.), Jamás Tan Cerca Arremetió lo Lejos: Inversiones extraterritoriales, crisis ambiental y acción colectiva en América Latina. Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar: Sede Ecuador; Centro Latinoamericano para el Desarrollo Rural.

2012, 'Territorializing resource conflicts in “post-neoliberal” Bolivia: hydrocarbons development and indigenous land titling in TCO Itika Guasu’, in Haarstad, H. (ed.), New Political Spaces in Latin American Natural Resource Governance. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 129-150.

Unpublished works

2016, La Esquiva Promesa del Territorio: Un Estudio Etnográfico de la Titulación de Tierras Indígenas en el Chaco Boliviano. Spanish translation of PhD dissertation. Translated by Hernando Calla Ortega. 

2014, The Elusive Promise of Territory: An Ethnographic Case Study of Indigenous Land Titling in the Bolivian Chaco”. PhD dissertation submitted to Department of Geography, University of Cambridge.

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