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Engaging with treasures of the subsurface between extractivism and spiritualism 
Florian Stammler (University of Lapland)
Dmitri Funk (Moscow State Linguistic University)
Vladislava Vladimirova (Uppsala University)
Send message to Convenors
Hugh Beach (Uppsala University)
Start time:
20 July, 2016 at
Time zone: Europe/Rome
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

Beyond the anthropology of oil and indigenous peoples, this session explores cultures of relating to the subsurface. Papers analyse the relation of different resource users' engagement with resources, their worldview, their environment and how these relations influence resource extraction

Long Abstract:

People's corporeal, spiritual, and cultural engagement with subsurface resources are the subject of this session. Many indigenous people worldwide associate taboos, notions of death, darkness and dangers with the subsurface. On the other hand, human life - including indigenous life is dependent on the extraction of subsurface resources (most notably energy and mining). Underlying these processes is the worldview of extractivism (Acosta 2013), the idea that only through processes of extraction can resources become valuable and acquire meaning for humankind. The meaning of resources in extractivism is being used for the good of humans, whose goal is in turn 'open up' more untapped resources in a "big carbon" approach (Klein 2014). This is in stark contrast to many indigenous and local cosmologies where the underground is a sacred (albeit maybe dangerous) sphere that must be left in peace for the spirits. This session aims to overcome such a dichotomy by inviting papers on extractive industries focusing on the corporeality and spirituality of the resource(s), and on the lived experience of people living on top of subsurface resources. Rather than reifying the distinction between indigenous and incomer-people, or between traditional indigenous economies and extractive industries, we encourage papers to analyse the complex mutual influence between people's cosmologies, their relation to the environment, their way of life and their way of relating to and extracting resources. In doing so, we hope to break new ground in the theoretical positioning of an anthropology of extractive industries and the environment.

Accepted papers:

Session 1