2013 Winner: Indigeneity in the Neoliberal Era: Anti-Mining Protests in Puno, Peru

Project Information
Indigeneity in the Neoliberal Era: Anti-Mining Protests in Puno, Peru
Social Sciences
Environmental Studies
In June 2011, over 25,000 protesters congregated in Puno, Peru to demonstrate against a recent mining concession to a multinational mining corporation. Protesters employed an ‘eco-ethno’ rhetoric that centered around the potential for the mine to contaminate local water sources and made explicit their indigenous identity. The mobilizations eventually provoked the central government to revoke of the mining license and temporary halted all new extractive industry projects in the Puno region. The Puno protests present a case study to explore the impacts of neoliberal economic policies on indigenous peoples, the factors contributing to the emergence of a national indigenous movement in a country where previously ethnic activism was absent, and the utility of eco-ethno narratives for indigenous movements. The paper is composed of three main sections and arguments: (1) that while overall the acceleration of extractive industry investment caused by neoliberal policies threatens indigenous livelihoods, international governance structures and communication technology provide important new methods for indigenous peoples to secure international allies and legal support (2) that an indigenous movement centered around opposing resource extraction is emerging in the Peruvian Andes (3) that the eco-ethno narratives that won Amazonian indigenous peoples first-world environmentalist allies may not be successful in the Andes, but that a different variant of ecological rhetoric has proved useful in challenging state policies.
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  • Emma McDonell (Eight)