The political ecology of small-scale gold mining reform in Guyana: resource competition, formal institutions, and green development pathways

Hook, Andrew Nicholas (2018) The political ecology of small-scale gold mining reform in Guyana: resource competition, formal institutions, and green development pathways. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis operationalizes a political ecology research programme to examine the different dimensions of environmentally-oriented small-scale gold mining reform within Guyana’s unique mining setting. The study is based on a year of fieldwork in Guyana and employs a mix of spatial, quantitative, and qualitative data – including multiple Geographic Information Systems (GIS) maps, mineral property data, hundreds of secondary documents, three ethnographic site-based case studies, and 143 semi-structured interviews.

The research approach examines the small-scale reform agenda in Guyana as a ‘storyline’, enabling a view of the policy agenda as not only embodying structures and institutions, but as also predicated on particular assumptions about social and ecological reality. By highlighting the contrasts between the ways policies are perceived and experienced by a range of actors on the ground with the abstract policy framings, it offers an analysis of the root causes of policy failure, conflict, and economic and social injustice.

The thesis identifies a range of powerful (and under-acknowledged) political phenomena in the mining landscape that threaten the legibility, legitimacy, and effectiveness of the reform approach. These phenomena relate to contested local understandings of environmental change; unresolved contentions among poorer miners and indigenous groups over the structural basis of formal titles; emerging forms of market-mediated exclusion; and inherent ‘informality’ amidst intense resource competition, state fragility and remote geographies.

The persistence of such phenomena offers a reminder that mining reform is not merely a ‘legal-institutional’ process but an inherently ‘political’ one that entails contestation over how social and ecological relationships are defined and managed. While showing how a political ecology approach enables engagement with a range of normative concerns, this thesis also makes specific contributions to current academic and policy debates on small-scale gold mining governance, offering new insights on patterns of informality, injustice, and exclusion.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General) > JA0071 Theory. Relation to other subjects > JA0075.8 Relation to ecology. Political ecology
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2018 16:15
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2018 10:07
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/80620

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