Global capitalism’s accelerating consumption of natural resources and new technologies are driving development of new riskier forms and sites of extraction. These developments create conflicts around socio-ecological hazards and perceived trade-offs between economic growth and environmental protection. I take proposed copper-nickel mines in Northern Minnesota as an illustrative case study of the contentious politics that arise around ecological risks, environmental governance and land-use decisions. Northern Minnesota is an emblematic case of the tensions around resource use in a rural mining region, but also has a distinct history of progressive politics and militant unionism, American Indian sovereignty, and ethos of environmentalism. I examine how class and place-based identities and collective memories inform how people make sense of environmental hazards and construct different visions for the future. I investigate how social actors (unions, mining companies, environmentalists, American India Tribes and local politicians) legitimize their positions, create competing truth claims, and engage in environmental decision-making. I situate these discourses and actions within the particular socio-ecological histories of Northern Minnesota and broader relations of power and political-economic and ideological processes. I contribute to environmental and natural resource sociology by integrating interdisciplinary theories of political ecology to address the interconnections between class, race, and indigeneity in environmental governance.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. 2018. Major: Sociology. Advisors: David Pellow, Rachel Schurman. 1 computer file (PDF); 322 pages.
Extracting Identities and Value from Nature: Power, Culture, and Knowledge in the Contested Politics of Mining.
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