Neoliberal extractivism and rural resistance: the anti-mining movement in the Peruvian Northern Highlands, Cajamarca (2011-2013)

Seo, Ji-Hyun
Neoliberal extractivism and rural resistance: the anti-mining movement in the Peruvian Northern Highlands, Cajamarca (2011-2013). PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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This dissertation examines the political prospects of rural subaltern groups in the era of neoliberal globalisation by engaging with the ‘death of the peasantry’ debates. To achieve this, it concentrates on rural resistance in the northern highlands of Peru, Cajamarca, against ‘new mineral extraction’ by multinational capital in the form of Minera Yanacocha S.A. (MYSA), with a theoretical framework of critical geography on transnational activism. In particular, the dissertation devotes attention to the massive mobilisations against MYSA’s Conga mining project between 2011 and 2013. The dispossession and disempowerment of the peasantry have been highlighted as the accumulation of global capital has intensified alongside the implementation of market-led development models around the globe. In the 1990s, the extraction and export of abundant natural resources was promoted as a ‘new development alternative’. In tandem with the unprecedented width and depth of resource extraction, the continent has become witness to increasing incidences of struggles led by local communities, particularly in the countryside. Recent Peruvian economic growth has been boosted by a ‘new mining boom’. Simultaneously, many Peruvians are protesting against mining activities, particularly due to their negative social and environmental impact. Cajamarca is one obvious example where neoliberal mineral extraction has generated a series of local struggles since the arrival of MYSA in 1993. The asymmetrical power of multinational capital vis-à-vis campesinos stands out in the context of the emphasis of the central government on ‘national development’ based on natural resource extraction. Against this backdrop, this dissertation examines the re-articulation of rural subjectivities and the political possibilities in their ‘networked form of resistance’, instead of focusing on the fragmentation, powerlessness and passivity of subaltern groups in the face of global capital power. Economic reductionism restricts our understanding of neoliberal globalisation to the exploitation of global capital vs. dispossession of local communities. Following Doreen Massey’s relational geographical approach, the dissertation maintains that it is relevant to understand the ‘relational content’ of global capital mobility and complex dynamics of resistance. In addition, the dualistic framework of geography and power which is based on an essentialist geographical understanding of the spatial (i.e. space/place; powerful global and powerless local) tends to regard local resistance as ‘reactionary’ place-based struggle. Instead, the dissertation focuses on the ‘interconnectedness’ of subaltern groups. It argues that diverse social groups shape what Featherstone terms ‘prefigurative solidarity’ around ‘maps of grievance’, via political resistance. In this process, a political identity is constructed in order to bring neoliberal globalisation into contestation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Date: 2015-01-05 (completed)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Neoliberal extractivism, New mineral extraction, Anti-Mining Movement, Peru, Cajamarca, Subaltern groups, peasants, counter-extractive networks, the death of the peasantry
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Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2015 10:02
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2022 01:16
DOI: 10.17638/02004499