Absorbing Risk at the Societal Boundaries of Colombian Coal Mines: Temporalities and the Corporate Discourse of Closure

Absorbing Risk at the Societal Boundaries of Colombian Coal Mines: Temporalities and the Corporate Discourse of Closure
Date
31 January 2019, 5.30pm - 7.30pm
Type
Seminar
Venue
Room 333, UCL Rockefeller Building, 21 University Street, London WC1E 6DE
Description

Laura Knopfel, KCL


Around an extraction site, relationships between multinational mining enterprises (MNEs) and local communities are continuously emerging – not by chance but because of an unavoidable territorial proximity. From the perspective of the corporation, those relationships entail risks to the smooth functioning of the mining activity in its different stages - exploration, construction and assembly, exploitation, processing, transport and marketing. The risks arise at what I conceptualise as ‘the societal boundaries’ of coal mines. Based on my fieldwork with the subsidiary of a multinational mining enterprise in El Cesar, Colombia, in this talk I am going to analyse how, day-to-day, a corporation minimises the risks to its operations. I suggest that at its societal boundaries the corporation employs non-legal governance techniques in order to steer the continuously emerging relationships into a direction which is beneficial to the corporation. Closely connected to lived experiences of extraction, the governance techniques make use of the temporality of coal as a finite natural resource. A corporate discourse of closure shifts the responsibility for the economic well-being of the local population from the corporation to the individual persons. In addition, it helps to attenuate the claims for corporate accountability in regard to its negative impact on human and natural livelihoods. By disentangling the relationships between MNEs and local communities, the power configurations and material means that underlie the corporate discourse of closure will be examined. My approach is informed by actor network theory and the anthropology of modern time.

All are welcome. Attendance is free.

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Contact

Olga Jimenez
olga.jimenez@sas.ac.uk
020 7862 8871