Contested extractivism: actors and strategies in conflicts over mining

Kristina Dietz, Bettina Engels


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.


Extractivism, resource boom, mining, conflict, Colombia

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.

If a manuscript is accepted for publication, the authors will be asked to pay an Article Publication Fee to cover publications costs.

Die ERDE charges the authors a page fee of € 25.– (no VAT required) for accepted and published articles to cover a part of the production costs. An average paper with 14 printed pages thus costs € 350.– (article processing charge).

This fee includes full open access to contents, no additional fee is necessary to allow everybody to access the PDF of the published paper. This means: you can freely distribute the final PDF, present it on your homepage and make links to the PDF from other web sites. In detail, Die ERDE uses the following copyright license:

Creative Commons License Articles published in Die ERDE are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

In April 2018 the Editorial Manager has changed. Please address all inquiries and correspondence to Dr. Verena Sandner Le Gall, sandner[AT]


Since 2011 all issues are openly accessible via this link
Older issues (back as far as 1833) are also open-access available – via