Professor, Department of Geography, Central Washington University
Elvin Delgado joined CWU in 2012 after completing his Ph.D. in the Department of Geography at Syracuse University. His research and teaching interests lie in energy and capitalism, political ecology, political economy and nature, environment and development, and health geography. Dr. Delgado is particularly interested in the close relationship that exists between nature and society in Latin America and the Caribbean. He has developed a research agenda that critically explores changing patterns of human-environment interactions in the context of fossil fuel production in Venezuela. Empirically, Dr. Delgado’s research explores processes of socio-political struggles over resource development, the multi-scalar interconnections of the material flows of natural resources, and the socio-ecological transformations associated with resource extraction industries. His doctoral dissertation – entitled Spaces of Socio-Ecological Distress: Fossil Fuels, Solar Salt and Fishing Communities in Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela – examines how the livelihoods and health of rural fishing communities in Lake Maracaibo have been affected as a result of industrial production of solar salt used mostly for the extraction of oil and natural gas.
Dr. Delgado’s research reveals how processes of socio-ecological distress associated with the extraction of oil and natural gas not only happens in-situ, but are also re-produced in areas away from the extraction sites as result of the extensive spatial reach of fossil fuels. He argues that what has been missing from all the academic discussions among political ecologists and critical resource geographers around the social, political, economic and environmental consequences associated with the production of oil and natural gas in the past decades is the active role that salt plays in the commodification of fossil fuels. This research suggests that in order to conceptualize these processes, it is crucial to understand the close relationship that exists between oil and natural gas extraction, petrochemical transformations and salt production, paying special attention to their material and institutional interconnections at different geographic scales.