Legitimate extraction? Exploring the actors and institutions that enable extractive industries

Thomas McNamara (La Trobe University)
Michael Main (The Australian National University)
Napier G03
Start time:
15 December, 2017 at 11:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel explores the actors and institutions that enable resource extraction. It seeks to move beyond a false binary between resistance and legitimisation and therefore welcomes papers that analyse these actors and which take seriously the potential and dangers of corporate engagement.

Long abstract:

This panel explores the relationship between extractive resources and developmental states by focusing on the people, processes and discourses that legitimate and enable resource extraction. Many scholars study the actors and institutions that critique and resist resource extraction, examining community organizations, INGOs and advocacy networks. By contrast, there is little analysis of the institutions, actors and structures that assist extractive projects in commencing and continuing. Environmental Impact Assessors, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practitioners and local pro-mining bodies are instead merely critiqued for enabling resource extraction, with their own moral codes and sources of legitimacy frequently disregarded in what are otherwise nuanced anthropological studies. This lack of analysis encourages seeing a dichotomy amongst those involved in resource extraction. Anthropologists sit on both sides of this duality; they are employed by both those who resist extractive industries, and those that enable extractors to engage with states and local peoples. Individual anthropologists are frequently an extractive project's passionate advocate or fiercest critique. In contrast, local peoples' responses to resource extraction are often strongly ambivalent and there is substantial overlap between the individuals and organizations who resist and enable extractive enterprise. This panel seeks to move beyond a false binary between resistance and legitimisation, exploring the people, organizations and institutions who interact with the extractive industry and shape its relationship with state. It welcomes papers that unpack these actors' aspirations, desires and concerns and which take seriously the potentials and pitfalls of engaging with corporations to achieve the goals of communities and nations.