Disputes over natural resources and their management have increasingly assumed a law-like shape and have been channelled through legal and quasi-legal arenas, such as civil and criminal courts (to challenge extractive projects but also to criminalise protest movements), arbitration tribunals, popular tribunals, community consultations emulating legally-binding plebiscites, grassroots forms of law-making, and international human rights institutions. Crucially, environmental politics involve not only the resource-rich territories that provide a habitat and/or livelihood for local populations, but also a plurality of incommensurable moralities and ontologies vis-à-vis the environment, natural resources, extraction, rights, sovereignty and development. In this vein, this project builds upon the premise that the juridification of resource conflicts has its own idiosyncrasies relative to similar processes in other domains of social life.
The project builds upon previous research – funded by an ESRC award – that has mapped out the transnational legal actions employed in subsoil resource-related conflicts in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The project proposed here will enable us to use that mapping to address the need identified by the ESRC project to explore the specificity of violent conflicts and the juridification thereof that involve diverse moralities and ontologies about nature and development.
The project is funded by the 2018 British Academy Sustainable Development Programme (Award Reference SDP2\100073) and involves researchers at both the Centre for Latin American & Caribbean Studies (CLACS) and the Center for Research and Graduate Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS) in Mexico.