Mobilizing against Dispossession: Gold Mining and a Local Resistance Movement in Mongolia

Dalaibuyan Byambajav. 2012. “Mobilizing against Dispossession : Gold Mining and a Local Resistance Movement in Mongolia” Journal of the Center for Northern Humanities, 5: 13-32.

Civil society scholars and practitioners have long been curious about the mechanisms that enable ordinary people to take collective action in conditions that normally would present little opportunity of emergence and sustenance, be it local or global. It was the same kind of intellectual curiosity that led this research to examine a local resistance movement in rural Mongolia, which emerged in response to the threats imposed by gold mining.

With its coverage of extensive surface and expansion into new territories, gold mining activities across the Mongolian countryside since the late 1990s have presented a significant challenge to the livelihood of Mongolian herders. Mining expansion has threatened the environmental, material, and cultural bases of the livelihood of herders (Tumenbayar 2002; High 2008; Dierkes, in press). Local herders in Mongolia, whose living environment has been affected by mining activities, have rarely complied with such disturbances without opposition. Local resistance movements emerged in response to mining-related environmental problems and livelihood risks since the early 2000s in Mongolia presented in part a societal defensive reaction to the destructive mining activities.

However, the majority of the local resistance movements have not been able to produce sustained collective action or community-based struggles. Even though, both academic and popular writing about mining, mobile pastoralism, and environmental management in Mongolia have discussed the role of local resistance movements, there is a lack of understanding of the actual staging ground of local collective action. What are the contradictory trends that facilitate or undermine local resistance movements? What forms of organization and collective action repertoires are available to local citizens in Mongolia?

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Abstract in Japanese

2005年,モンゴルのアルハンガイ県ツェンヘル郡において,牧畜民による金鉱山開発計 画反対運動が発生した。そこでは,採掘予定地域の牧畜民が3 カ月にわたり道路封鎖などの 抗議を行った。この抗議行動は,モンゴルで1990年代に始まった急速な金鉱山開発によっ て引き起こされた環境問題や土地などの生活資源の収奪をめぐる反対運動の事例である。本 稿は社会運動論を用いてこの反対運動の動員力の展開要因を考察した。主な知見は次のとお りである。①地域牧畜民と都市部の市民組織が連携して行ったその反対運動の発生と動員に は,都市部を拠点とする「同郷会」という組織が大きな役割を果たした。同会は,同郡内で の反対運動に対する行政や鉱山開発会社による阻止・妨害行為を乗り越える重要な基盤とな った。②牧畜民動員のため,インフォーマルな「牧畜民協力グループ」や,社会主義時代に 用いられた「行動記録簿」などの社会・文化資源の利用が有効であった。

Dierkes, Julian. ed. in press (2012). Change in Democratic Mongolia: Social Relations, Health, Mobile Pastoralism and Mining, Leiden: Brill.

High, Mette M. 2008 “Dangerous Fortunes: Wealth and Patriarchy in the MongolianInformal Gold Mining Economy.” PhD Diss., Cambridge University

Tumenbayar, N. 2002 “Herders’ Property Rights vs. Mining in Mongolia.” Paper presented at Seminar on Environmental Conflict Resolution, Brown University.

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