Contested extractivism: actors and strategies in conflicts over mining


  • Kristina Dietz Freie Universität Berlin
  • Bettina Engels Freie Universität Berlin



Extractivism, resource boom, mining, conflict, Colombia


This article focuses on the question of how the worldwide emergence of conflicts over mining, and particularly in Latin America, can be explained. It aims at systematizing contemporary conflicts over mining. Based on existing case studies and our own research in Colombia, it investigates the issues at stake in conflicts over largescale mining, the strategies which local actors apply, and the factors influencing their actions. The analysis combines theoretical concepts from the study of contentious politics with concepts from spatial theory. The empirical examples demonstrate that conflicts over mining are embedded in overriding processes of transformation in which global processes (the resource boom) come together with national politics and the symbolic and material meaning of specific locations. Political opportunity structures – political programs, institutions, laws, regulations, changes in government and regimes – are pivotal for local conflicts. Protest actors search for allies, responsibilities and solutions on the local, national, or transnational scale. An important characteristic of conflicts over mining is the particular meaning of specific places. This is shaped by the physical-material existence of resource deposits and at the same time by various cultural attributions. In this article, it is demonstrated that both these dimensions of place are relevant to the demands and strategies of collective actors.




How to Cite

Dietz, K., & Engels, B. (2017). Contested extractivism: actors and strategies in conflicts over mining. DIE ERDE – Journal of the Geographical Society of Berlin, 148(2-3), 111–120.