Too often it is assumed that all impact from mining, upon the environment and society, is inherently bad. This is the result of a narrow focus on the power asymmetries between cash-strapped countries (and their needs) and cash-rich countries (and their mining interests). Looking at how extractive industries have impacted Peru, Vladimir Ramón's new book takes readers beyond such thinking and towards a reasoned, granular understanding of how resource politics play out on the ground. Fighting for Andean resources offers a highly detailed and forensically researched examination of how extraction is done at local, national and international levels; what the costs and perceived benefits are; and for whom. Peru is a superb example of global trends in mining expansion and in the exploitation of non-renewable resources: while the country's landscapes and ecosystems have been transformed, the level of inequality has remained the same.
Ramón's concern in this book is with what eminent Peruvian historian Jorge Basadre called Perú profundo [deep Peru]. The book's analysis centres around the impoverished (rural) groups, at the margins of the mercantilist system, who stand to gain from establishing alliances with more powerful urban, regional, national or multinational groups. Across five chapters, the author brings admirable scope and depth to the task of gathering supporting data. Chapter one looks at the micropolitics of the initial phases of negotiation surrounding the Antamina extraction project and its three principal sites in the Andes Mountain range. The next chapter details how corporate socio-technologies and residents living near mines value the resources and product of mining endeavours differently. Chapter three examines the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process as the main intermediation between nature and society in the geographical context above. Here, Ramón highlights how debates on the ground about environmental impact can promote political participation and unanticipated alliances. Chapter four reflects on Andean local expectations of how development should proceed through economic and citizen participation. The author analyses the impetus underpinning ‘corporate social responsibility’ and the local emphasis upon reciprocity and expectations of a ‘big gift’ as compensation for corporate extraction (pp. 171–2). Chapter five delves into differing perspectives and understandings of environmental contamination.
Porter, J. (2022). Fighting for Andean Resources : extractive industries, cultural politics, and environmental struggles in Peru. International Affairs, 98(6), 2170-2171. https://doi.org/10.1093/ia/iiac235