NEWS

The 161th Tobunken-ASNET Seminar "Can States Manage Political Conflicts Effectively? Reflections on the Experience of Mining Conflicts in the Philippines"

【Date】
February 2 (Thu), 5:00-6:00 p.m.

【Venue】
Ground Floor, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo

【Speaker】
Jewellord Nem Singh (JSPS Research Fellow, IASA, The University of Tokyo)

【Title】
Can States Manage Political Conflicts Effectively? Reflections on the Experience of Mining Conflicts in the Philippines

【Commentator】
Yusuke Takagi (Assistant Professor, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies)

【Abstract】
The mining industry often portrays a political landscape engulfed with local conflicts, civil war and uneven development. Yet, international organizations and national governments have promoted the idea that mining has the potential to powerfully transform communities and national economies. Through good governance reforms, it is argued, mining can deliver on poverty reduction, local employment, and even national industrialization. In this context, the lecture examines the ways in which the state apparatus has managed tensions and contending discourses around the role of mining in economic and social development. I draw from recent experience of mining reforms in the Philippines to illustrate the contradictions of promoting mineral-led growth and the apparent political conflicts that arise from resource extraction. My presentation builds upon my existing research on how resource conflicts shape the ways in which citizens understand the role of mining in their communities, but also the emergent state-society relations that become concretely manifested through political bargaining between the state, mining companies, and local communities. I draw upon my fieldwork research in the Philippines, specifically in the mineral-rich province of Surigao del Norte, Mindanao, to examine how citizens and communities formulate and understand the impacts of large-scale economic transformations associated with the penetration of transnational mining capital into their local social and political realities. The findings suggest that while very little consensus exists regarding the impacts of mining, the conspicuous material benefits in the form of mineral revenues, additional taxes, and paternalistic benefits for poor mining communities have enabled local elites to convince communities to support mining extraction. Yet, despite these benefits, the region still suffers from high levels of unemployment, lack of social mobility, and poor access to education – all of which are symptoms of a ‘local resource curse’. Moreover, citizens have been divided over their support to mining as a result of the uneven distribution of rents as well as the disproportionate environmental impacts across mining communities. Therefore, we can observe political conflicts in varying forms as a direct result of deepening extraction of minerals.
In particular, I will discuss why and how good governance reforms have been inadequate to address the grievances of the communities, and explore how the gap between national discourses of mining as a development policy and local realities around the costs and benefits of living near the sites of extraction has oftentimes generated political conflicts. Finally, the lecture will touch upon the role of the state in resolving these conflicts, with emphasis on elite strategies to contain opposition and to coopt local elites to maintain a stable political environment – a key prerequisite for multinational capital to remain rooted in these enclave economies.

※Seminar will be held in English.