Unearthing Conflict: Corporate Mining, Activism, and Expertise in Peru
Water and Life
This chapter focuses on the protests against the expansion of the Yanacocha gold mine into Cerro Quilish (Mount Quilish). In campaigns against the mining project, Cerro Quilish was an aquifer (a store of life-sustaining water) and an Apu (usually translated from Quechua as “sacred mountain”). Crucially, the knowledges that shaped the Quilish campaigns were not part of an already existing “indigenous tradition,” nor were they simply a set of meanings that environmentalists, scientists, and protestors assigned to a preexisting thing. Rather, their discursive practices and the mountain’s material form (as a mineral deposit, aquifer, and Apu) were mutually articulated as the controversy took shape. The chapter examines the practices that bring entities into being and suggests that contemporary conflicts involve an ongoing process of contestation over socionatural worlds.