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ESRC Seminar Series: Resource conflicts workshop

August 11, 2015

The final workshop of the seminar series on Natural Resource Management will focus on the conflicts around natural resources. Our broader aim is to stimulate dialogue between academic disciplines and practitioners within the fields of conservation, climate and environmental change and international development. The specific seminar will focus on the tensions and challenges arising from managing natural resources and the plethora of responses across a wide range of actors.

We will have two keynote speakers, Dr. John McNeish from CMI Bergen who will speak about resource sovereignty in Latin America and Professor Rosaleen Duffy from SOAS who will talk about environmental conflicts in conservation projects. The broad interests of our speakers will provide a platform for the other participants to discuss and exchange ideas around conflicts and resource politics.




Resource Sovereignty in Latin America:
Popular Efforts to Tame the State and Extractive Development
John-Andrew McNeish, 
Associate Professor NMBU/Senior Researcher CMI


Latin America has emerged over the last decade as a region of rapid economic growth, poverty reduction and other positive social development indicators. These shifts can largely be attributed to the economic windfall created by high international commodity prices, and particularly those for energy resources. However, whilst positive transformations are widely acknowledged, it has also become evident that the expansion of resource extraction in the region has had a detrimental effect on the environment and become the cause of rising socio-environmental conflict. Throughout the region, local communities contest the right of governments and private corporations to enter, operate and profit from resource extraction in their lived vicinity. In this paper I aim to highlight the way in which contestation is frequently expressed not only on the basis of economic rights and concerns with environmental destruction, but material and social concerns of identity, ecology and contrasting matched with claims for territorial rights and autonomy. Aiming to capture these complex dynamics the paper makes evident the relationship between resource contestation and what I term resource sovereignty. I argue that acknowledgement of the current interplay of resource sovereignty not only provides important insight into drivers of conflict dynamics, but of mechanisms that could deliver legitimate responses and routes to an environmental peace-building.   

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