Accepted paper:

Of bodies and territories: women, mining and modernity in the Peruvian highlands


Kyra Grieco (EHESS)

Paper short abstract:

In Peru mining has long been promoted as a vector of modernization for the Andean highlands. This paradigm of modernity is increasingly questioned by protest movements opposing new mining projects. This paper will focus on the role of women as subjects and objects of such a contested modernity.

Paper long abstract:

During the last twenty years, extractive activities in Peru have been viewed by the national government as the only viable road to development in the Andes. This paradigm of modernity is increasingly questioned by protest movements opposing the implementation of new mining projects. Although the issue of gender is rarely addressed directly in such conflicts, women play an increasingly important role, both as beneficiaries of company social programs and as protagonists of the protest movements. In both cases, women's social role and physical bodies are central to the collective construction of one model of modernity, as well as to a critique of the other. This paper will focus on women as subjects and objects of a contested modernity. It shall present results from ethnographic research carried out in the region of Cajamarca, one of the areas of heavy mining investment and the site of intense social conflict since 2011. An overview of the paradigms of modernity will be presented in terms of the role that each of these models assigns to women, especially in the realm of maternity. The experiences of women in this contested terrain, as well as their mediation and resistance to the constraints imposed on them by existing models, shall permit us to explore the differences and intersections of the two discourses of modernity. At the same time, we shall focus on the creative agency with which women operate within each one of these discourses, as active subjects in the definition and implementation of their rights.

panel P15
Gender and extractive industries in Latin America