Maria-Therese Gustafsson.
Maria-Therese Gustafsson.

Abstract

In Peru, the rapid expansion of extractive activities has led to increased mobilization by peasant communities. In remote rural areas, the mediating efforts of the state between communities and corporations are often weak, and corporations have played an important role in dealing with communities’ demands and protests through different strategies. These processes are illustrative of a broader trend in which private corporations engage in governance processes by assuming state-like functions in relation to citizens. This study investigates how communities’ mobilization and scope of influence is affected by their interactions with corporations. Based on interviews and written primary sources, the study provides a detailed empirical account of the multifaceted relations and negotiations between corporations and communities in the context of two macro-economically significant Peruvian mining projects – Rio Blanco and Las Bambas. In this way, the study contributes to the empirical and theoretical debates on the political role of corporations and the implications for social movements and democratic influence.

The study shows that the presence of private corporations alters the conditions for mobilization by creating opportunities as well as constraints, with significant impact on mobilization structures and framing of demands. However, communities relate to those opportunities and constraints differently, depending on how state-society relations and other forms of private dynamics have played out historically at the subnational level.