Human Rights Program

Land and Water Cluster


Christina Ewig (chair)
Richard Monette
Sameer Alatout
Erica Simmons
Heinz Klug
Harvey Jacobs


December 3, 2013
Roundtable on research, 1:30-3:00pm, 206 Ingraham Hall. Each cluster member will present his/her research on water and or land as it relates to human rights (10 minutes each). The first three presentations (30 minutes) will be followed by 15 minutes of discussion about the relationships and intersections between them. The second round will have another three 10-minute presentations followed by 15 minutes of discussion. This will include graduate students as well.

February 21, 2014
"Performing participation: Mining, power, and the limits of community consultation in Bolivia,"
Professor Tom Perreault, University of Syracuse, Noon-1:15pm, Lubar Commons, sponsored by the Human Rights Program, land and water cluster

As with many Latin American states, Bolivia has implemented a variety of policies to allow for community-based consultation regarding the existing or potential impacts of extractive activities. Consultation mechanisms, particularly for Indigenous and campesino populations, have been promoted by international forums and incorporated into law in a number of Latin American states. In Bolivia, consultation has been codified in law since 1991, and has recently been fully integrated into the legal codes governing mining and hydrocarbons, as well as the 2009 Constitution. However, though required by law, consultation is practiced irregularly and is not legally binding. As a result, neither private companies nor the state are obligated to follow community recommendations, and communities have no right to halt projects to which they object. In this paper, I examine processes of community consultation in Bolivia’s mining sector. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in Oruro department, I argue that consultation processes are tightly managed and circumscribe local input. Rather than fulfilling its promise of fostering the participation of affected populations in resource governance, consultation serves to circumscribe and depoliticize unequal and unjust social relations, in order to legitimize extractive activities. To this extent, consultation mechanisms may be thought of as everyday performances of state power that give the impression of democratic participation, while masking structurally uneven power relations.

Lock Icon