Book Chapter: ‘All that Glitters: Neoliberal Violence, Small-Scale Mining and Gold Extraction in Northern Tanzania’
In Against Colonization and Rural Dispossession: Local Resistance in South and East Asia, the Pacific and Africa. Ed Dip Kapoor.
Under the guise of ‘development’, a globalizing capitalism has continued to cause poverty through dispossession and the exploitation of labour across the Global South. This process has been met with varied forms of rural resistance by local movements of displaced farm workers, small and landless (women) peasants, and indigenous peoples in South and East Asia, the Pacific and Africa, who are resisting the forced appropriation of their land, the exploitation of labour and the destruction of their ecosystems and ways of life.
Across the world communities are struggling to defend their land, air, water, forests and their livelihoods from damaging projects and extractive activities with heavy environmental and social impacts: mining, dams, tree plantations, fracking, gas flaring, incinerators, etc. As resources needed to fuel our economy move through the commodity chain from extraction, processing and disposal, at each stage environmental impacts are externalized onto the most marginalized populations. Often this all takes place far from the eyes of concerned citizens or consumers of the end-products.
The EJ Atlas collects these stories of communities struggling for environmental justice from around the world. The atlas is a visually attractive and interactive online mapping platform detailing environmental conflicts. It allows users to search and filter across 100 fields and to browse by commodity, company, country and type of conflict. With one click you can find a global snapshot of nuclear, waste or water conflicts, or the places where communities have an issue with a particular mining or chemical company.
In November of last year, civil society organizations hosted a seminar on the extractive industries in Kenya. Titled ‘Kenya’s New Natural Resource Discoveries: Blessing or Curse?’ and organized with the aim of addressing potential opportunities, challenges, impacts and policy implications of Kenya’s newly discovered resources, including oil, this was a rare opportunity to have an open and informed debate about the implications of mining, oil and resource extraction in the country.
In Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness,’ first published in 1899 and years later subject to a polemical but much-needed critique by one of Africa’s most prolific writers, King Leopold’s colonial project in the Congo is described as ‘the vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human conscience.’ More than a century later, after a protracted war in which an estimated 4.2 million citizens perished and the nation’s stability was invested in the UN’s largest peacekeeping force to date, Conrad’s oft-repeated phrase is, tragically, just as pertinent.