Maurizio Totaro (University of Ghent)
Send message to Convenor
- Room 211
- Sunday 13 October, 11:00-12:45 (UTC+0)
Author:Amanda Wooden (Bucknell University)
Paper long abstract:
The Kumtor gold mine in Kyrgyzstan has been a large income earner for the country since it began production in 1997. The Canadian operating company was an early result of Kyrgyzstan's neoliberalization, obtaining the mine contract one year after the Soviet Union breakup. It became a disputed site after a 1998 cyanide spill near Lake Ysyk-Kol. The Kumtor mine also is the only open-pit mine in the world actively removing glaciers to access gold. The ecological impact of the Kumtor mine and the economic ramifications of closing, selling, or nationalizing it dominate national political discussions in Kyrgyzstan. This mine is also important as a technology test site in the climate change era, for mining where glaciers recede in northern and alpine sites around the world.
This paper explores how mining at the Kumtor site in Kyrgyzstan became a national issue centered on the loss of glaciers and how in turn this awareness led to the emergence of climate change in public discussions. Discourses of climate change intersect with, shape, and are shaped by place-based identities in some of Kyrgyzstan's extraction zones (e.g. Crate 2011; Withers 2009). This work explains various competing narratives about nature, mining, and Kyrgyzstan's future, and argues that glaciers have become political actors in Kyrgyzstan. This paper engages with critical geography and anthropology literatures on extractivism, corporate social responsibility and neoliberalisms, geographies and politics of place, and the post-human turn. The present work meets Benson and Kirsch's (2010) call for scholarship engaging critically with the role of corporations and their exercise of power, Thieme, Bedi and Vira's (2015) call "for more nuanced accounts examining corporate-led development" (p. 218), and Crate's (2011) demand for work about climate and culture that is "cross-scale, multistakeholder, and interdisciplinary."
Author:Margarita Kalinina-Pohl (Middlebury Insitute of International Studies)
Paper long abstract:
In 2018, Uzbekistan announced its plans to build a nuclear power plant with Russia. This paper examines Uzbekistan's decision to embark on a nuclear power program by analyzing the country's motives to go nuclear and why it chose to do so in cooperation with Russia. It will also address certain security concerns which need to be considered when a country decides to develop nuclear technologies.
The author believes that Uzbekistan's pursuit for nuclear power is foremost politically driven. It is a matter of national pride and prestige for Uzbekistan to host the first nuclear power plant in Central Asia. Uzbekistan's nuclear alliance with Russia will give a new spin to regional politics. Such development will counterbalance other sources of power, such as hydropower and natural gas, allowing Uzbekistan more leverage in its energy exports. The paper will also stress the responsibility of a nuclear newcomer to develop proliferation resistant technologies which will not compromise this country's adherence to nonproliferation regime and treaties.
Findings for this paper will be derived from open source regional and Western literature and news reports, including official statements on this subject matter by Uzbek, Russian, other Central Asian officials, and international experts. The author will also interview experts from Uzatom (Agency for the Development of Nuclear Energy) to support her observations. The author hopes that this paper with help provide an understanding of Uzbekistan's motives in developing nuclear energy. It will also contribute to the general body of scholarly literature on nuclear newcomers and how the decision of one country in the region to go nuclear can affect regional power and energy balance.
Author:Gulzat Botoeva (University of Roehampton)
Paper long abstract:
The aim of the paper is to develop a theoretical framework for examining illegal gold mining industry in Kyrgyzstan. While not a new phenomenon, in recent years the rapid expansion of extractive industries has created new tensions in the legality of ecological, political and economic practices in Kyrgyzstan. The recent conflicts between local people and mining companies reveal that official companies do not always operate legally, as they pay bribes for obtaining mining licenses, and do not have all required documents to operate. This is tied with the role that the state organizations and representatives play in the shift between legality and illegality in the mining industry in Kyrgyzstan. According to preliminary interviews, certain laws regulating extractive industries have been revised in favour of large corporations. This reveals that, within the governmental discourse, development is tied to extractive industries. As such, state representatives became actors in providing licenses through informal networks. My paper suggests that by using economic sociology lens (Beckert and Dewey, 2017), we can understand the dynamics of illegal gold mining. Instead of looking at corruptive state representatives and illegal small-scale miners separately as in some other studies, it will consider them as actors within the illegal extractive economy. By using this framework, I will focus on the whole spectrum of illegality: from the role of legal institutions in supporting and maintaining the illegal practices of gold mining to the illegal gold mining outlawed by the state. This will bring to light the many ways in which extractive industries are embedded in illegal practices.