New mining ventures in Venezuela and links to foreign capital

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Title: New mining ventures in Venezuela and links to foreign capital
Author: Lindberg, Joel Markus
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences
Helsingfors universitet, Statsvetenskapliga fakulteten
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2020
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Degree program: Yhteiskunnallisen muutoksen maisteriohjelma
Master's Programme in Society and Change
Magisterprogrammet för samhälle i förändring
Specialisation: Kehitysmaatutkimus
Development Studies
Abstract: This thesis studies the discourse of governmental actors in resource-rich countries that base much of their economic structures on the extraction of natural resources. The goal of the study is to explore the links between foreign capital and government-led resource extraction ventures and understand what kind of a discourse is built around natural resource ventures and how governments represent these ventures as a viable model for ‘development’. The focus of this study is the case of the new Orinoco Mining Arch – project in Venezuela, established in 2016, that represents a new extractivist turn in the traditionally oil-based economy of the country. In this thesis the link between foreign capital and resource extraction is understood as fundamentally interconnected through the theoretical framework that positions extractivism as part of a developmentalist and neoliberal ontology. The methodological approach of this thesis is that of Critical Discourse Analysis which is presented based on the poststructuralist views of Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe on discourse. Furthermore, Fairclough’s approach to Critical Discourse Analysis is used as a way to study and analysis of the research material through textual analysis, discursive practice and social practice. The data consists of three types of material that the Venezuelan governmental actors have published regarding the mining activities of the Orinoco Mining Arch: the opening speech by president Nicolás Maduro at the event to officiate the AMO project, the communications and news articles related to this new project published by the country’s Ministry of Mining and country’s the National Development Plans’ sections that relate to mining. This study shows that attempts to legitimize governmental mining ventures are carried through by building a public image of an ecologically sustainable, dynamic and sovereign mining industry that is deeply linked to the Chavist-nationalist imaginary, and intertwined with more subtle elements, including foreign capital, in the discourse. The analysis of the data found that this resource nationalist discourse, its origin and its features are currently reproducing a developmentalist based neo-extractivist narrative which praises ’development’, considers resource extraction as necessary, and follows a neoliberal logic of accumulation of capital. Thus, despite of its apparent potential for conflict, foreign capital it is part of the developmentalist narrative that the governmental discourse creates. Its manifestation as neo-extractivism has an immense potential for destruction in the socio-ecological context.
Subject: extractivism
natural resource politics
resource nationalism

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