Negotiating the mine: Commitments, engagements, contradictions

Document Type

Book Chapter


Mining has become such a terrain of conflict that there are multiple pressures on researchers to take sides. At one extreme, co-convening an event with a mining corporation can be interpreted by critical social science colleagues as allowing the company to use the event to claim legitimacy for its social responsibility work. At another extreme, to assume a critical position on human rights abuses at a mine site can lead the mining sector to cast researchers as anti-mining radicals. Is there space, then, to do research on mining that allows for engagement with the full range of actors who have an interest in the mine site? This chapter offers no simple answer to this question. Instead, it explores the wide range of strategies of engagement that characterize the work of researchers doing critical resource geography (many of whom are not geographers). Some scholars prioritize engagements with communities and movements, seeking to contribute to strategies of resistance and negotiation; some, though fewer, engage with governments or prioritize engagements with the industry in the hope that these approaches may elicit some reform. We also consider whether individual researchers can engage with a range of these interests at the same time or whether to do so is impossible, naïve, or both. Our discussion draws on patterns in the literature as well as on the authors’ personal experiences of engagement with corporate, community, nongovernmental, social movement, and public sector actors.

Publication Title

The Routledge Handbook of Critical Resource Geography

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critical resource geography, mining