The negotiation of responsibility in the global mining industry
Laura Knoepfel (King's College London)
Paper short abstract:
This paper is about the simultaneity of temporal limitation and spatial dominance of global value chains in the extractive industries. It discusses the role of the simultaneity for the everyday negotiation of responsibility.
Paper long abstract:
Coal is a finite, non-renewable resource but open-pit coal mines are of an impressive material spatiality. This paper is about the resulting simultaneity of temporal limitation and spatial dominance of global value chains in the extractive industries. In particular, it discusses the role of the spatial-temporal order of a coal mine for the negotiation of responsibility. I develop the hypothesis that a mining company transforms the finitude of coal into a specific temporality. That temporality determines the manner in which the 'Social Team' of a mining corporation engages with the local communities. The day to day, mundane relations between the corporations and local communities are channelled through the omnipresent references to the closures of the coal mines on the part of the former. Through the making of the temporality the corporate form dissolves as a subject of responsibility. My exploration of the negotiation of responsibility is to be situated in recent anthropological work on modern time in capitalism. My contribution is based on participatory observation undertaken with a Colombian mining company that is fully integrated into a global value chain in 2017.
Global capital as a local challenge: the anthropology of corporations