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Undermining conflict: Multinational miners, conflict and participation in Indonesia

Sinclair, Lian NapierORCID: 0000-0003-1378-3668 (2020) Undermining conflict: Multinational miners, conflict and participation in Indonesia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

PDF - Whole Thesis
Embargoed until November 2027.


Since the 1990s, participation has become the dominant method for multinational mining corporations to contain conflict with people affected by mining. Yet conflict, including violent confrontation, remains prevalent. The literature documents a wide range of outcomes of participatory mechanisms – they may produce compromise, exacerbate conflict or even create new opportunities for conflict – yet there is little literature explaining such variance. This thesis explains this diversity in terms of (a) factors involved in the design and implementation of participatory mechanisms by multinational miners and (b) factors determining how, when and why people affected by mining participate or not. I use the ‘modes of participation’ framework to analyse how institutional and ideological foundations for participation shape who can participate, on what issues and when. I argue that participatory mechanisms including corporate social responsibility (CSR) and community development are neither simple outcomes of corporate ethics nor merely greenwashing strategies, as they are often presented. Rather, participation is a mechanism of rule to both contain manifestations of conflict risky to corporate profitability and create social relations amenable to extractive accumulation.

Qualitative data are drawn from fieldwork across three case studies in Indonesia – the proposed coastal Kulon Progo sand iron mine in Yogyakarta, Newcrest’s Gosowong gold mine in North Maluku and Rio Tinto’s ex-Kelian gold mine in East Kalimantan. These cases are placed within an analysis of global corporate self-governance that has arisen in response to broader crises of legitimacy. Findings highlight the importance of historically constituted social relations and contestation across local and global scales in shaping participation. Particularly important for how people affected by mining participate are their control of land, histories of organisation, alliance structures and ideologies. These factors shape the desire and capacity of people affected by mining to resist or secure benefits from participation in mining developments.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Global Studies
Asia Research Centre
Supervisor(s): Hutchison, Jane, Rodan, Garry and Hameiri, Shahar
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