Introduction

The Legal Cultures of the Subsoil is an ongoing initiative with two stages of development. The first, the Judicialization of Environmental Politics in Central America was an ESRC-funded project that researched and mapped the legal and legal-like repertoires at work in disputes over subsoil mining projects in four Central American countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua). It also included research at global sites (Washington, DC, Geneva and London) where key actors involved in legal actions relating to environmental politics are based. A key element of the project was the development of The Legal Cultures of the Subsoil database to serve as a repository of information on legal and quasi-legal actions involved in the disputes. 

The further development of the database is a key output of The Juridification of Resource Conflicts project and the second phase of The Legal Cultures of the Subsoil initiative. Spanning the fields of political anthropology, socio-legal studies and political ecology, the new project is funded by the British Academy. It builds on the previous ESRC project to explore the developing uses of the jural by a range of actors to advance their views about development, environmental protection and inequality in the context of violent conflict over subsoil resources in Central America and Mexico. 

The database has been strengthened to incorporate new cases and features that enhance its functionality as a digital repository of legal instruments and practices used by the diverse stakeholders involved in resource conflicts. As such, the database is intended to be a practical resource for human rights lawyers, academic researchers, activists, policy-makers, global organisations, members of the business community, civil society actors, and others interested in resource-related conflicts and human rights violations. 

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Photo of open mining site in Central America