Mining Capitalism: The Relationship between Corporations and Their Critics

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Corporations are among the most powerful institutions of our time, but they are also responsible for a wide range of harmful social and environmental impacts. Consequently, political movements and nongovernmental organizations increasingly contest the risks that corporations pose to people and nature. Mining Capitalism examines the strategies through which corporations manage their relationships with these critics and adversaries. By focusing on the conflict over the Ok Tedi copper and gold mine in Papua New Guinea, Stuart Kirsch tells the story of a slow-moving environmental disaster and the international network of indigenous peoples, advocacy groups, and lawyers that sought to protect local rivers and rain forests. Along the way, he analyzes how corporations promote their interests by manipulating science and invoking the discourses of sustainability and social responsibility. Based on two decades of anthropological research, this book is comparative in scope, showing readers how similar dynamics operate in other industries around the world.

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From the Inside Flap:

"Mining Capitalism is excellent. It makes a much-needed contribution to understanding our contemporary historical moment. Kirsch adeptly moves his focus between close-to-the-ground descriptions of corporate practices and persuasive claims about the ways that corporations work to control meaning and money."―Kim Fortun, author of Advocacy After Bhopal

"Kirsch presents a richly detailed study of global corporate attitudes towards natural resources and the politics that inform indigenous social movements facing global capitalist interests. This is a vivid account of how the globalization of nature affects societies that have vastly different understandings of what natural resources mean."―Arjun Appadurai, Goddard Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication

"Mining Capitalism takes us from the devastation of a river to the courtrooms and commissions where activists and thieves reimagine its truth and consequences. This is a thrilling story, and everyone should read it. As both participant and perceptive observer, Kirsch offers us engaged anthropology at its very best."―Anna Tsing, coeditor of Words in Motion: Toward a Global Lexicon

About the Author:

Stuart Kirsch is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Reverse Anthropology: Indigenous Analysis of Social and Environmental Relations in New Guinea (2006).

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