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date: 23 March 2017

Women’s Anti-Mining Activism and Development

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. Please check back later for the full article.

The extractive industries play a prominent but also controversial role in the economies and development strategies of countries across the global South, often leading to clashes between the priorities and livelihoods of local communities and the ambitions of governments and TNCs keen to exploit mineral reserves. Mining thus provides an interesting lens through which to engage with key questions about development. Who decides, who benefits, and who should be responsible for dealing with the long-term legacies of mining and associated issues of sustainability and environmental devastation? Women’s anti-mining activism is an important but under-researched element in this scenario, and one that provides an interesting way to interrogate the complexities surrounding mining and development, raising a number of questions and directions for future research.

Current research on this topic not only tells us about the highly unequal power relations operating in this context, but also sheds light on the ways in which grassroots women’s voices are heard (or not heard) in the global arena; the gendered nature and dynamics of community decision making; the high levels of violence and intimidation common to the experiences of many women anti-mining activists; and the constraints and challenges women face as activists. More broadly, research on women’s anti-mining activism contributes to analyzing the gendered nature of the extractive model of development.

Significant gaps in the existing literature provide productive avenues for future research. In particular, there is the potential to explore alternative visions of development through engaging with the agendas of women activists, their ambitions and perspectives. However, there is also a need to further develop our understandings of the multiple challenges women activists face in this highly charged scenario, and to analyze how these are navigated and tackled by the women themselves. Finally, conducting research in this context presents particular methodological challenges, and in this regard, it is important to consider possible approaches that might enable the perspectives of grassroots women anti-mining activists to be brought to the fore.