Gerardo Castillo Guzmán

Mining is a major component of economic growth in many resource-endowed countries. In addition, mining development causes mixed social, cultural, environmental and economic effects in the regions in which it takes place. State agencies, the industry, and civil society groups have implemented a range of social and economic measures in response to these effects. To examine the changes, many researchers use an impact-assessment approach, or social movement theories, which provide several advantages but also significant limitations. The aim of this thesis is to create an understanding of the transformations that rural societies experience in the context of mining development in the Peruvian Andes, using a novel approach taken from geographical theories of the “production of space”. This approach enables analysis of environmental, political, economic, social and symbolic elements within a single frame and across time and spatial scales. This thesis examines transformations related to land access, production, mobility and representations of place from the perspective of local families. The main argument presented in this thesis is that spatial transformations prompted by current mining development in Peru exhibit four central features that depart from conventional accounts of social change in rural Western societies. Firstly, exogenous market integration between rural and urban areas is emerging as a result of increased wage labor in non-farming activities and consumption of external goods, and is not due to a rise in farming productivity. Secondly, the resulting urbanization is not a binary or permanent process from rural to urban locations, but a mixed and fluid process wherein families use their networks to bridge both spaces. Thirdly, social relations have not necessarily become more individualistic and anonymous, yet kinship and social networks remain central to individual lives; however, some social relations and identities are increasingly challenged, especially those in relation to gender. Lastly, gender and age, as well as collective and individual experiences and interests, significantly shape the construction of social representations of the city and the countryside. Grounded in the interpretative tradition, this thesis examines the experiences of 14 families over the past 20 years in the vicinity of the La Granja copper project in Cajamarca, Northern Peru. A comprehensive narrative has been built through diverse voices and perspectives (family heads and their partners, local leaders and qualified informants, company employees and social scientists), sources and techniques (in-depth and multi-site interviews, ethnographic observations, socio-economic secondary data, and local fiction).

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