Copper as a “green” resource for the energy transition: A post-development analysis of resistance-narratives in anti-mining social movements in Peru

  • Ayla Noelani Tiefenbach (Author)
    Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien

Identifiers (Article)


The modern globalized economy is dependent on copper, a resource that is also crucial for renewable energy technologies. With the projected expansion of renewable energy in light of the so-called green energy transition the scale of copper extractivism is expected to multiply. In Peru, the second largest copper exporter after Chile, the projected increase in demand is presented as an opportunity for economic growth and development. However, social movements and critical academics have long criticized extractivism to be the cause of numerous socio-ecological conflicts. Guided by a critical post-development framework and social movement theory that sees transformative potential in Latin American resistance movements this work conducts a qualitative content analysis of resistance narratives in anti-mining social movements and networks in Peru. The critique voiced by resistance actors allows for an understanding of the Peruvian extractive space as one structured by unequal ecological exchange that causes socio-ecological harm at the extractive frontier while reproducing colonially grown unequal power structures. Given their criticalunderstanding of extractivism as a development model in Peru the investigated anti-mining social movements in Peru can be situated within the post-development debate. Guided by the eco-centric vision of buen vivir they make a valuable contribution to the discussion on alternatives-to-development, and specifically on post-extractivism by proposing concrete alternative visions and practices that strive towards post-extractivist utopias. Given the novel context of intensifying copper extractivism for the renewable energy transition the look at the extractive frontier demonstrates how the supposedly green energy transition risks perpetuating the colonial legacy of environmentally and socially destructive resource exploitation that works for the benefit of consumers in the global North while undermining possibilities for self-determined, autonomous pathways of development in the global South.


Academic discipline and sub-disciplines
Social sciences , Environmental studies
Green extractivism, unequal ecological exchange, social resistance movements, post-development, post-extractivism, buen vivir, energy transitions