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Accepted Paper:

Colliding geographies of resource governmentality  
Emilka Skrzypek (University of St Andrews)

Paper short abstract:

This paper looks at the geographies of resource governmentality that link global demand for metals and minerals with localized realities and aspirations in the Pacific and considers how the top-down and bottom-up approaches collide and converge – and the effects this creates.

Paper long abstract:

We live in an extractive age that connects people in different parts of the world through extraction and consumption of natural resources. Over the last twenty years a range of mechanisms were produced by promoters of extraction to render it legitimate, e.g. corporate social responsibility and sustainability indicators and reporting. These serve to demonstrate that ‘responsible’ and well-governed resource extraction is both possible and legitimate.

This paper uses an example of a proposed copper and gold extraction project at Frieda River in Papua New Guinea to map and contrast the top-down mechanisms used by the government and the company to advance the project and develop a mine, with bottom-up approaches, developed locally, in response to the proposed project. At the core of the paper is the process of public review of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project. The statement – mandated by the government and delivered by the company – provoked a strong response from local communities affected by the proposed project. The communities resurrected old forms of local governance, and mobilised localised ontologies – as well as international alliances – to challenge both the findings of the assessment, as well as the validity of EIS as a mechanism for resource governance.

The paper addresses questions of power, knowledge, and access to representation and decision making to map the geographies of resource governmentality, considered within their respective ontologies – and explore ways in which they collide and converge, and the effects this creates.

Panel P163a
Extractive governmentalities: articulating top-down and bottom-up views [Anthropology of Mining Network]
  Session 1 Tuesday 26 July, 2022, -