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Accepted Paper:

"No One Can Say the Karonsi'e Dongi Were Not Here": A Photovoice Study of Gendered Resistance to Mining in Indonesia  


Tracy Glynn (University of New Brunswick)
Siti Maimunah (University of Passau)

Paper short abstract:

Our research with two Indigenous communities in Sorowako, Indonesia, shows that participatory ethnographic methods such as photovoice allow researchers to identify intent and consciousness in acts of everyday resistance to resource extraction.

Paper long abstract:

Rural women who depend on healthy lands and water to survive are increasingly mounting a formidable resistance to resource extraction in their backyards. Resistance to nickel mining by multinational investors in Sorowako, Indonesia has existed since the operation started taking land from farmers in the 1970s. However, little is known about women's everyday resistance to mining in Sorowako. Acts of everyday resistance tend to be subtle acts that can too easily be dismissed by distant observers as survival and coping strategies. We conducted a photovoice study with women from two Indigenous communities affected by the Vale nickel mining operation, the Karonsi'e Dongi and Sorowako communities. At a time when resistance scholars debate whether to include intent and consciousness in their studies of resistance (Johansson and Vinthagen, 2016), we argue that intent and consciousness matter when identifying an act as resistance and that conscious intent in resistance can be discerned in participatory ethnographic research methods such as photovoice. Our study revealed that the women are aware of their oppression and of the structural and intersectional nature of their oppression, namely how processes of dispossession and exploitation for mining affect them as rural women from either community. This awareness affects the way they respond to the mining operation, including how they resist the oppressive nature of mining in their everyday lives. Everyday acts of the women, such as accessing forbidden land, can be considered resistance because the women intend to lessen their domination and better their conditions.

Panel P084
Economy, Ecology, Politics: Anthropological engagements with socioenvironmental movements and popular ecologies