Reproducing the Imperial Mode of Living in Times of Climate Crisis: Green(ing) Extractivisms and Eco-territorial Conflicts in the Chilean, Mexican and Peruvian Mining Sector

Lorena E. Olarte-Sánchez, University of Vienna, Austria
Anna Preiser, University of Vienna, Austria
Nina Schlosser, Berlin School of Economics and Law, University of Vienna, Austria:

In the context of the climate crisis and a proposed energy transition, we analyze how century-old structures are reproduced in resource-rich Latin American countries with what consequences for human and environment. Our study highlights how dominant discourses and practices are legitimized by certain institutions and eventually enshrined in complex structures by applying the concept “imperial mode of living”. Using insights from dependency theory, we link external factors, internal dynamics, and their consequences as well as structures that are safeguarded by ruling forces. Our empirical case studies in Chile, Peru, and Mexico are embedded in this theoretical framework. In each case, we reveal how the greening of extractivism is facilitated by different collective actors. Discursive strategies enable the still contested institutionalization of green extractivism which appears to be anchored in an extractivist common sense. We examine eco-territorial conflicts that emerge as a result of “sustainable” mining, specifically, lithium extraction in the Salar de Atacama in Chile, copper mining in Peru’s Tambo Valley, and silver mining in Mexico’s Sierra Norte de Puebla region. In light of our findings, we conclude that climate change hegemonic strategies are accompanied by the reproduction of a green IML on a global scale and by green(ing) extractivism that still exploits human, nature, and territorial resources resulting in eco-territories conflicts.

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