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Interpreting Industry's Impacts: Micropolitical Ecologies of Divergent Community Responses


  • Leah S. Horowitz

    1. is assistant professor of Geography, Hawai‘i Pacific University (1188 Fort St. Mall, Honolulu, HI 96813–2713, USA; Her research examines multi-stakeholder conflicts over environmental governance, focusing on transnational mining projects and biodiversity conservation, mainly in New Caledonia (South Pacific).
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I am grateful to the editors of Development and Change and to an anonymous referee for helpful comments. Of course, all errors of fact or interpretation are exclusively my own responsibility.


Where governments have failed to protect their citizens from the environmental and social impacts of industrial development, social movements have often arisen in response. However, other community members may defend — sometimes violently — the same corporations that are targeted by their peers. The contributions to this cluster explore some of the ways in which communities disagree about how to respond to the ecological impacts of industry, their reactions inflected by differential concerns about economics, landscapes, indigenous rights and human health. The three studies illustrate the heterogeneity that communities display in their interpretations of, and responses to, industrial development, and demonstrate how this diversity informs, in crucial ways, grassroots activism against the development, or acceptance of it. In particular, this cluster examines how community-scale actions, and the interpretations of industry's impacts upon which these actions are based, are contested through multiple discourses centred around community identities and boundaries.