Extractive Industries and the Environment: Production, Pollution and Protest from a Global and Historical Perspective, 6-7 December 2019 (Oxford)

Please note the workshop on 6-7 December is a closed workshop – enquiries to copperbelt@history.ox.ac.uk.

All are welcome to attend the Keynote Lecture by Timothy James LeCain on Friday 6 December, 5.30pm (History Faculty Lecture Theatre).

Further details about workshop:

Download draft workshop programme>>

Contemporary societies are built around resource extraction (Curtis, 2013). Extractive industries rework local topographies, land use and vegetation patterns and introduce new structures and meanings to the environment. Oil extraction and gold, copper and uranium mining move tonnes of earth, which profoundly impacts on and transforms the landscape, soils, vegetation and watercourses near industrial areas. Nonetheless, outside of Europe and the United States, the linkages between extractive industries and environmental change have only recently started to be explored.

This two-day workshop intends to compare the environmental dynamics of extractive industries across the globe (specifically in Africa, Asia and Latin America), from a historical perspective. Although the relationship between extractive industries and environmental change is significant and multifaceted, it remains under-researched (Ross, 2017). In light of debates on the Anthropocene and climate change, reflection on the longer history of environmental knowledge production, pollution and protest appears timely (Hecht, 2018).

This workshop seeks to highlight parallels and differences between extractive regions, natural resources, economic and political regimes and disciplinary approaches. How do the environmental dynamics of gold mining differ from oil extraction? Are Latin American extractive industries comparable to those in Africa or Asia? What role do colonialism and post-colonialism, capitalism and neoliberalism play in governing the environmental effects of resource extraction? Although this workshop is historical in focus, it will include interdisciplinary approaches from geographers, anthropologists and political scientists. Time will be reserved to discuss methodologies for doing research on extractive industries and the environment.

The workshop is funded by the John Fell Fund of the University of Oxford and is organised with the support of the ‘Comparing the Copperbelt’ project.