Mapping Environmental Inequalities in Brazil: Mining, Environmental Conflicts and Impasses of Mediation
Andréa Zhouri – 2014
The paper discusses the process of mapping environmental conflictsin the Brazilian State of Minas Gerais, highlighting the epistemological differences between the concepts of conflictsand impacts. By focusing on the case of mining registered in the map, it analyzes the effects of abstract global ideas upon politically-grounded processes in Brazil. It reveals how global environmental policies and strategies related to consensus building are presented as solutions to environmental conflictsand interrogates how such strategies, driven by transnational financialinstitutions, have been adopted by Brazilian agencies in turn producing depoliticizing effects (i.e. shifting the focus from rights to interests). If participation has been a key concept within a global sustainability paradigm, and one that seemingly responds well to calls for democracy in countries like Brazil, negotiation is the medium through which participation (therefore democracy/the political) must occur. Yet in a process typical of coloniality of knowledge and power, dissent and alterity are sidelined, perpetuating processes of environmental inequalities.