Accepted paper:

Abandonment and citizenship in a Chilean mining town


Sally Babidge (University of Queensland)

Paper short abstract:

Social conditions of the mining economy, abandonment and citizenship are critically examined through the example of a 'participatory' development plan and it's broader political economic context in Calama, Chile.

Paper long abstract:

Calama, principal inland town of the Antofagasta region and service centre for the mines that surround it, is described by some Chileans as 'botado'; used up and abandoned by the flourishing mining industry. In a series of city-wide strikes from 2011-2013, Calama's citizens, workers and municipal leaders took to the streets to demand their share of the wealth. Partly in response to such demands, a program of corporate-state-citizen participatory developments was inaugurated -'Calama PLUS'- and the renovation of the decaying Mercado Central building was an emblematic project within it. The case may be used to narrate the political economic conditions of citizenship framed in terms of EP Thompson's moral economy. However, as a corporate-community partnership, the Mercado Central development plan engaged certain rhetorical aspects of participation while working to make vulnerable the place of those citizens whose historical and contemporary activities in the Mercado did not fall within the ambit of the plan. Abandonment as a condition of liberalism and the forms of citizenship made possible are examined here through both the 'social projects' (Povinelli) that CalameƱo citizens undertake; thereby enduring and belonging, as well as social projects of the neoliberal state that enables and (quite literally) undermines it's citizens.

panel Cit01
The moral economy of citizenship in late liberalism