Rethinking Extraction: A Lefebvrian Critique of Sustainable Mining Discourse
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The idea of Sustainable Mining (SM) has gained increasing traction in the past two decades as an industry-based response to concerns over operational pollution, the (mis)treatment of local/Indigenous communities, and a growing awareness of diminishing and finite mineral stocks. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is currently the theory of choice for thinking about and implementing change at the industrial level, however, this thesis argues that Henri Lefebvre’s theory of the production of space illuminates the serious limitations of such approaches. Lefebvre challenges the dominant modern understanding of space as a neutral, passive, empty container arguing that it is a socially produced realization of particular modes of spatial production. Every society produces its own space, which facilitates and constrains different forms of life. CSR remains mired in that abstract and reductive spatialization exemplified by extractive processes that have made, and continue to make, spaces unliveable for thousands of communities around the world. I suggest Lefebvre’s work offers a quite different way of thinking about sustainability itself, not as an abstract balancing act between three distinct pillars – economy, society, environment, but in terms of how these are, in actuality, always already combined together in and through different modes of spatial production. The focus of sustainability then becomes one of producing and reproducing continually livable spaces, rather than ensuring economic growth.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/28119
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