EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010


Imagined resources and governance of community

Location JHT10
Date and Start Time 26 Aug, 2010 at 14:30


Ben Campbell (Durham University) email
Lorenzo Cañás Bottos (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) email
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Long Abstract

Socialities of material value are imaginatively at stake in the question of to what extent global capitalist demand becomes the dominant factor in communities' articulation with emerging politics of the environment. The flip-side alternative to market penetration is to declare places and their ecologies off-limits and beyond human use. Anthropologists can alternatively ask whether globally circulating narratives of cultural resistance to extraction/protection embolden attempts to challenge the imperialism of going-rate resource utility in favour of new trans-generational scenarios for low-carbon human and environmental welfare. The idea of resources has stretched rhetorically in late capitalism to require professions of ethics and responsibility, and enfold community resilience and possibilities for local control of benefit into the imagination of active environmental citizenries. The panel will invite ethnographic comparison of resources for culture, in the conflict over value of different landscapes, and what lies beneath them for corporate, state, and community legitimacies.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.


Disputed nature: social struggles and the environment in Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park, southeastern Spain

Author: Jose Antonio Cortes Vazquez (CSIC (Spain))  email
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Long Abstract

In the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park (Andalucía, Spain) different social groups- notably local farmers and nature-tourism entrepeneurs- seek to legitimise very different sets of practices and visions regarding the land and its use. The conflict between these two groups creates a polarised backdrop against which public discussions on the Natural Park, including its features and future, unfold. Drawing on an ethnographic analysis of the discourses deployed by different actors in this conflict, I show how the dynamic construction of a particular idea of 'the environment' is formed through the dialectical interaction between political agency and environmental perception, itself shaped through human-environment relations.

Defending the mines through changing political and economic regimes in Estonia

Author: Eeva Keskula (Tallinn University)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper explores the changing relationship between the mining community, the mining company and the state in northeast Estonia over the past 30 years. The move from socialist to neo-liberal Estonia, and the political and economic changes that entailed, transformed values relating to natural resource extraction, profit and industry. The socialist and neo-liberal state have both in their own ways tried to exercise control over the mining company and the community, provoking different strategies for defending the existence of industry and the mining profession by the community. In this article, the changing relationships and values, and the key turning points are explored through the story of Artur. Artur was a miner and a socialist worker hero in the Soviet times, a trade union leader during mine re-organisation and closures, and later entered politics. Artur's story helps to uncover some of the difficulties of relationships in a period of rapid political and economic changes -and therein to understand the role of a single individual.

Our homeland, our assets: Inuit rights, governance, and mining in Nunatsiavut, Canada

Author: Andrea Procter (Memorial University of Newfoundland)  email
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Long Abstract

Over the past thirty years, many Labrador Inuit have fiercely resisted mining developments as threats to their cultural survival. The Labrador Inuit land claim was settled in 2005, and Inuit are now debating whether to allow uranium mining within their new territory of Nunatsiavut - this time as the landlord. This paper explores three examples of mining disputes in Labrador since the 1970s that highlight the changing strategies that Inuit, provincial and federal governments, and industry use to claim ownership, to frame the relationship between Inuit and the land, and to present and create desirable Inuit economic and political activity. Major questions addressed include: How have discourses of indigeneity, citizenship, and neoliberalism been used to constitute resources and relationships? How are these discourses and relations with resources now rearticulated and challenged in the new political and economic circumstances of the post-land claims era?

Indigenous response to cultural vulnerability and mining in Canada

Author: Beth Bedard (Durham University)  email
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Long Abstract

There are currently conflicts between Indigenous rights and the rights of developers being enacted in many parts of the world. This paper focuses on one particular conflict between an Indigenous Secwepemc community in British Columbia and the developers of a mining megaproject for gold and copper within their territory. The Secwepemc community perceptions are that this project will lead to the death of their culture. This fear of cultural extinction has fuelled a backlash against this development.

This volatile and potentially violent situation is characterized by an absence of dialogue between the discourses and perspectives of racism and human rights abuses as articulated by the Secwepemc in contrast to the right to develop natural resources for commercial profit.

This paper will discuss the Secwepemc response to these different discourses in terms of cultural survival and how the community is attempting to manage the stress of cultural uncertainty as traditional values and practices are incorporated into new political and cultural realities.

Enter the tourism-dispositif: human/environment interaction and its consequences for a small island ecology

Author: Carsten Wergin (Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper takes an anthropological perspective on the 'tourism-dispositif' of the island of Rodrigues (Republic of Mauritius) whose resources are adapted to suit the demands of the international tourism industry. I use Foucault's notion of "dispositif" (1978) as further developed by Bührmann and Schneider (2008) to account for processes that influence the formations of the island's natural and cultural resources as key sites of a socio-political struggle for recognition. The tourism-dispositif on Rodrigues Island involves processes of naming, framing, and translating fought out between residents, experts, and transnational bodies such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Fundamental problems to the small island economy of Rodrigues are a lack of industrial development and, related to this, a high unemployment rate. Those are to be tackled through tourist promotion. But tourism not only boosts the economy. For example, it changes the self-perception of the local population and its willingness to openly oppose political decisions taken on the 'mother-island' Mauritius. Furthermore, current debates on sustainable development and heritage preservation as key elements of a successful tourism policy transform notions of governance, environmental protection, and political contestation on the island. Questions to be addressed therefore also include the management and entitlement, waste and conservation of the local environments, as well as the oscillation of a political mindset between Rodriguan dependency and autonomy from Mauritius.


Andrea D. Bührmann and Werner Schneider (2008) Vom Diskurs zum Dispositiv. Bielefeld: Transkript.

Michel Foucault (1978) Dispositive der Macht. Berlin: Merve.

Natural resource extraction, CSR and human rights in West Africa

Author: Henrik Nielsen (Danish Inst for Human Rights)  email
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Long Abstract

This article focuses on two sectors in two countries, the oil extraction industry in Niger and the gold extraction in Mali, and how foreign extraction companies interact with local communities. It seeks to uncover what "corporate social responsibility" means to different social groups in two cases. The oil extraction industry in Niger is taking place in an extremely remote part of the country, in the middle of the Sahara Desert. The challenge of integrating local communities is therefore of a particular kind, as it will mainly be nomadic, often rebellious groups, who will claim autochtony, and therefore a share in whatever spoils that may be available.

In Mali, foreign companies operate alongside local artisan exploiters, and have a more pronounced role to play in local communities, who equally fight for their rights to get their share , and are concerned with their environment. Again contracts with political elites are outlined in a not entirely transparent manner. Here, demands that companies should take up roles of the state, providing services etc. are being voiced by local populations as well as by civil society groups, campaigning with varying degrees of local constituency, proposing themselves as mediators.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.