Unearthing Conflict: Corporate Mining, Activism, and Expertise in Peru
Irrigation and Contested Equivalences
This chapter describes how an irrigation canal and the fluid relations built around it became the focus of disagreements about the effects mining on water quantity and quality. The canal connected people and landscapes through relations that encompassed, but were not reducible to, economic or utilitarian concerns. However, the environmental mitigation strategies of the mining company rest on a logic of equivalence that makes the consequences of mining activity seem commensurable with the company’s environmental management plans. Equivalences shift the focus of discussion toward technical solutions and economic calculations, but people’s ways of measuring changes in their surroundings do not necessarily rely on legal classifications of water, environmental standards, or scientific studies. The engagement and interactions between people, land, and other elements of the environment—made through affect and kinship, antagonisms and necessity—are crucial for understanding the disputes with the mining company.