Mining Conflict, Indigenous Peoples and Environmental Justice: The Case of Phulbari Coal Project in Bangladesh
Hasan, Mohammad Mahmudul
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My doctoral dissertation, an in-depth case study of the Phulbari Coal Project in Bangladesh, accentuates the interests and engagements of Indigenous peoples (Adibasi people) in the decision-making process in resource extractive industries through an environmental justice framework. My primary aim is to observe how and to what extent Indigenous peoples interests are reflected in official environmental decision-making processes versus how they frame their own claims in a mining conflict situation. I employ extensive qualitative research in the project area to demonstrate how Adibasi communities articulate and implement their claims through raising their voices and ultimately stimulating a movement that stopped the development of a perilous open-pit mining project. The resistance movement began more than a decade ago in 2006, but Adibasis, other farming communities and activists are still bearing the spirit of the movement, which they shared in the interviews I conducted. This research analyzes their motivations for fighting a multinational corporation and identifies how their movement articulates with national and transnational activists conceptions of environmental justice in the global South. I explore how these ideals play out in practice on the ground, in a context where the development is highly contested, and disparities of power are prevalent. I anticipate that this empirical research will attract other ethnographic research on the environment, Indigenous peoples, resource extractive industries and sustainable economic development in the global South.