indigenous movements

Social relations and the green critique of capitalism in Melanesia. American Anthropologist 110(3):288-298, 2008.

In this article, I explore what a critical environmental perspective would look like in
Melanesia, where the distinction between nature and culture, and the expectation
that science interprets the former in terms of the latter, may not apply. I consider
changes in scientific knowledge production and the shift from cultural ecology to
political ecology in Melanesian anthropology, including the argument that Melanesians
are neither conservationists nor environmentalists. In contrast, I show how people
exposed to pollution from the Ok Tedi copper and gold mine in Papua New Guinea
mobilize their understandings of difference in a green critique of capitalism. I examine
a strategy session of local activists, a public meeting about their campaign against
the mine, and a sorcery tribunal. Finally, I suggest that Melanesian ideas about
social relations provide a useful ethnographic analogy for thinking about the mobility
and short temporal horizons of contemporary capitalism.

Indigenous movements and the risks of counterglobalization: Tracking the campaign against Papua New Guinea’s Ok Tedi Mine. American Ethnologist 34(2):303-321, 2007.

Many contemporary indigenous movements deploy strategies of counterglobalization
that make innovative use of the architecture of globalization. This article examines
an indigenous political movement that took legal action to gain compensation and
limit the environmental impact of the Ok Tedi copper and gold mine in Papua New
Guinea. Even though the campaign sought to balance the desire for economic benefits
with the protection of local subsistence practices, its objectives were frequently
misinterpreted. Indigenous movements that deviate from an antidevelopment position
run the risk of being seen as greedy rather than green. Instead of reproducing
allegories about the successful exercise of veto power over development projects,
anthropologists need ethnographic accounts that analyze the complex ambitions
of indigenous movements and the risks of particular strategies of counterglobalization.

 

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