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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
December 2023
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Book description

The Metamorphosis of the Amazon sheds new light on the complex history of the Ecuadorian rainforest, revealing how oil development and its social and ecological repercussions triggered its metamorphosis. When international oil giants such as Shell and Texaco started to dig for oil in remote rainforest locations, a process was born that eventually altered the fabric of the Amazon forever. Oil infrastructure paved way for a disastrous industrial and agricultural landscape polluted by the hazardous waste management of the oil industry. Adopting a unique approach, Maximilian Feichtner does not recount the established narrative of oil companies vs. suffering local communities, he instead centers the rainforest ecosystem itself – its rivers, animals, and climate conditions – and the often neglected actors of this history: the oilmen and their experiences as people affected by a pollution they perpetrated and witnessed. This title is part of the Flip it Open Programme and may also be available Open Access. Check our website Cambridge Core for details.


‘The history of oil is full of criminality, corruption, authoritarianism, violence, and frustrations. In Ecuador, it caused profound metamorphosis, and its Amazon, for more than half a century, transformed into a madhouse of multiple destructions. In great depth, Maximilian Fritz Feichtner sheds light on this history.’

Alberto Acosta - former President of the National Constituent Assembly of Ecuador

‘In a time that seems trapped in its dependence on fossil fuels, Maximilian Fritz Feichtner brings us back to the history of oil extraction in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Indigenous people, workers, and corporations blend their memories with the non-human nature of the Amazon. The result is a toxic legacy still embedded into the ecologies of oil extraction. A much-needed work for everyone who wants to see how oil has entered the history and ecology of the planet.’

Marco Armiero - European Society for Environmental History

‘A meaningful contribution to the environmental humanities, this book offers an interdisciplinary exploration of the social, cultural, and environmental transformations that oil wrought in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Eschewing simple binaries, treating non-human actors as agents, and taking Ecuadorian oil workers seriously as historical figures, Feichtner sheds light on the complex dynamics through which Texaco and its subcontractors advanced their project of extraction in the RAE, and contemplates the wreckage they left behind.’

Rebecca Herman - University of California, Berkeley

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