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One industry, different conflicts: A typology of mining mobilization

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Abstract

Mining conflicts are comprised of diverse socio-territorial mobilizations that originate in different parts of countries where mineral deposits are exploited, and became politicized to target international companies and national state policies. To analyze the diversity of mining conflicts, this paper develops a multidimensional matrix typology based on the intersection of two core dimensions: the framing of claims and the degree of disruption of repertoires of contention. The result is four types of conflicts: resistance, negotiation, subordination, and dependency. The paper finds empirical evidence for the conceptual typology through the analysis of a database of 49 case studies of mining conflicts in Latin America, providing rich, contextual, and historical information that allows not only for more accurate classifications of conflicts, but also for better understanding of how different combinations of claims and repertoires can advocate for different policy outcomes and relations with the state and mining companies.

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... The aqueduct had been approved by the provincial authorities without a FPIC process, triggering demonstrations and roadblocks in early 2020 (Pucará, 2020). This added to previous conflicts around mining and lithium extraction in the region (Walter and Wagner, 2021;Paredes, 2022). In 2011, for instance, thirty-three communities living near Salinas Grandes, in the Province of Jujuy, had prevented the start of a lithium project under the claim that no FPIC had been provided (Pragier et al., 2022). ...
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Controversies over such issues as nuclear waste, genetically modified organisms, asbestos, tobacco, gene therapy, avian flu, and cell phone towers arise almost daily as rapid scientific and technological advances create uncertainty and bring about unforeseen concerns. The authors of Acting in an Uncertain World argue that political institutions must be expanded and improved to manage these controversies, to transform them into productive conversations, and to bring about "technical democracy." They show how "hybrid forums"—in which experts, non-experts, ordinary citizens, and politicians come together—reveal the limits of traditional delegative democracies, in which decisions are made by quasi-professional politicians and techno-scientific information is the domain of specialists in laboratories. The division between professionals and laypeople, the authors claim, is simply outmoded. The authors argue that laboratory research should be complemented by everyday experimentation pursued in the real world, and they describe various modes of cooperation between the two. They explore a range of concrete examples of hybrid forums that have dealt with sociotechnical controversies including nuclear waste disposal in France, industrial waste and birth defects in Japan, a childhood leukemia cluster in Woburn, Massachusetts, and Mad Cow Disease in the United Kingdom. They discuss the implications for political decision making in general, and they describe a "dialogic" democracy that enriches traditional representative democracy. To invent new procedures for consultation and representation, they suggest, is to contribute to an endless process that is necessary for the ongoing democratization of democracy.
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Sustainable mining has become a paradigm that mobilizes companies, governments and community groups. The struggles between an expansive mining sector and a significant part of the rural population for access and control of land and water show that the association between large-scale mining and rural livelihoods faces a number of challenges. This paper analyses changes in rural livelihoods associated with the expansion of mining in the Andes. Framed within the sustainable livelihoods approach and the role of institutions, in particular property rights, in development, it argues that: (i) change in livelihoods respond to a broad set of factors that include but are not limited to the influence of mining; (ii) the presence of mining accelerates such change and introduces inter-generational distribution effects; (iii) institutions governing land and water rights play a significant role in the power relationships between companies and communities. The paper concludes by suggesting a role for social policy and corporate social responsibility in supporting positive and sustainable changes of rural livelihoods.
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What is the relationship between formal participatory structures and the onset and evolution of popular mobilization? Under what conditions does mobilization bring about policy and even institutional change? This article examines mining conflict—and in particular the project approval stage, when mobilization is most likely to interrupt extraction—in Peru. Utilizing a path-dependent framework, the paper finds that very limited spaces for community participation in the environmental impact assessment process in fact have prompted and transformed popular mobilization in extractive zones, leading to outside scrutiny and the stalling of major projects.
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Despite violent protests across Latin America, policies to make mining more environmentally sound and socially acceptable remain elusive. This essay explores the factors that hinder progress in resolving mining conflicts. It describes the fiscal incentives that drive governments to promote mining, the environmental risks inherent in open pit mining, and the divisive property rights that contribute to conflict. While no mining is environmentally benign, more can be done to protect the health and livelihoods of local communities. Progress requires not only improving the technical capacity of institutions tasked with environmental monitoring but also resolving the deeply rooted social divisions in the region. Affirming the rights of local communities - nonindigenous as well as indigenous - to control zoning, water supplies and the financial benefits of mining would both better link governance to those most affected and, in many cases, reduce poverty.
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Although numerous scholars have analyzed the effects of natural resource extraction at the national level, few have explored it systematically at the local level. Focusing on Peru, where both mining production and local social protests have greatly increased in recent years and where a new tax has required mining companies to transfer revenue to subnational governments, this study explores the resource curse at the local level. In particular, why do protests arise mostly in the areas of natural resource extraction? Employing subnational data for Peru for the period 2004–9 and LAPOP survey data from 2010, the research confirms previous findings that social conflict is provoked by both the negative externalities of mining and the revenues from the new tax. The article further demonstrates that local bureaucratic capacity is a significant independent variable. Greater subnational bureaucratic capacity can ameliorate the pernicious societal effects of a local resource curse.
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The late 20th century saw the creation of new 'resource frontiers' in every corner of the world. Made possible by cold war militarisation of the third world and the growing power of corporate transnationalism, resource frontiers grew up where entrepreneurs and armies were able to disengage nature from its previous ecologies, making the natural resources that bureaucrats and generals could offer as corporate raw material. From a distance, these new resource frontiers appeared as the 'discovery' of global supplies in forests, tundras, coastal seas, or mountain fastnesses. Up close, they replaced existing systems of human access and livelihood and ecological dynamics of replenishment with the cultural apparatus of capitalist expansion. This essay explores the making of a resource frontier in the eastern part of South Kalimantan, Indonesia, in the 1990s.
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: This paper examines processes of primitive accumulation and livelihood dispossession on the Bolivian Altiplano. Through empirical examination of the social and environmental effects of mining waste, the paper demonstrates that indigenous campesino community members are experiencing livelihood dispossession by way of three interrelated forms of accumulation: accumulation of toxic sediments on agricultural fields; accumulation of water and water rights by mining firms; and accumulation of territory by mining operations. In the case under examination, full proletarianization is not taking place, and processes of dispossession are not a “fix” for an overaccumulation crisis. The paper argues for greater attention to the contingent role of nature's materiality in processes of dispossession and accumulation.
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This article attempts to reformulate and resuscitate the seemingly prosaic methodological task of description, which is often derided in favour of causal analysis. First, the problem of definition is addressed: what does this category of analysis (‘description’) refer to? Secondly, a taxonomy of descriptive arguments is offered, emphasizing the diversity contained within this genre of empirical analysis. Thirdly, the demise of description within political science is charted over the past century, with comparisons to other disciplines. Fourthly, it is argued that the task of description ought to be approached independently, not merely as a handmaiden of causal theories. Fifthly, the methodological difficulties of descriptive inference are addressed. Finally, fruitful research areas within the rubric of description are reviewed.