Trading time and space: grassroots negotiations in a Brazilian mining district
Published on the 16th of May 2019
Brazil has recently been at the centre of environmental discussions after mining disasters in Minas Gerais. Having conducted fieldwork in mining towns in that region, Andreza wrote a timely paper about how mining permits are negotiated in Brazil. Participatory governance in Brazil has guaranteed that affected communities are listened in the process of mining licenses, but how are meetings held? Focusing on notions of time, Andreza looks at mining license meetings, examining the interactions between a mining company, the affected community in the district of Miguel Burnier, Brazil, and mediators between them – members of a municipal council for cultural heritage. Using ethnographic data, she investigates whether participatory councils could abridge temporalities and offer a compromise: the company offered improvements in quality of life in an uncertain future, the council needed to preserve local cultural heritage, and residents suffered from pressing problems in the present: depopulation, pollution, and unemployment. This paper shows that participation may not solve residents’ socio-economic problems efficiently, for these same problems affected their ability to voice concerns during meetings and wait for future compensations.
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