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Accepted Paper:

Towards the Supernatural: Exploring How Spirituality Shape Local-level Negotiations of Critical Mineral Mining  
Gerald Arhin (University of Manchester) Antoinette Ayikwao (Accra Technical University)

Paper short abstract:

We explore the local-level power dynamics that shape negotiations around the decisions that characterise the mining of critical minerals. We show how spirituality influences the negotiations among local actors around the emergence of the institutions intended to govern the mining of these minerals.

Paper long abstract:

The desperation to save the planet has necessitated the rash for lithium mining to Fastrack the energy transition agenda. Ongoing debates among academic, policy and civil society actors have partly focused on how negotiations around the mining of these critical minerals can depart from the social and environmental cost that characterised conventional mining. Discussions have largely explored the asymmetric power dynamics between national and local actors that define negotiations around the institutions developed to govern the extraction of these minerals. However, there is limited understanding of how power dynamics at the local level shape these negotiations. Particularly, how contextual dynamics, such as culture, tradition and religious beliefs influence institutional bargains at the local level are underexplored. Using the Ewoyaa Lithium Project in Ghana as a case study, we show how traditional religious beliefs shape negotiations at the local level. Through ethnographic research, we find that the prophetic powers of local gods are instrumentalised by traditional authorities to induce consent from the local people on a wide range of institutional arrangements. In this presentation, we show how the agency of local actors are not just limited by the power of national actors but also supernatural phenomenon. The research reinforces the need to emphasise contextual factors in understanding the emergence of institutions that shape the mining of critical minerals, accentuating the significance of spirituality and religion in the process.

Panel P27
The extractive politics of Africa’s energy transition: A new dawn or more of the same?
  Session 2 Friday 28 June, 2024, -