Social licence to operate in mining

This project investigates how corporate social responsibility practices articulate and enact the legitimacy of extractive activities. It looks at company-community relations in Northwest Europe, especially regarding the social license to operate. - By Marieke Meesters

In my PhD project I investigate participation in resource extraction and management. My work is based on a new materialist notion of participation, which holds that measurements and the objects, the issues and the publics that emerge in measuring ongoingly co-produce worlds and meaning. I empirically document ontological implications of knowledge contestation and knowledge production that shape the underground. Scholars who are attentive to the liveliness of materials have demonstrated that collectives of humans and non-humans together shape who can participate, what issues matter and how participation can take place. My work focuses on the Wadden Sea, the only UNESCO natural heritage site in the Netherlands. For the first half of my project, I draw on Karen Barad’s agential realism to analyse the role of measurements practices; how they enact the boundaries of and between objects, contribute to the establishment of causal claims and the constitution of issues, and shape participatory processes. I also reflect on the issues and objects that could have been enacted, and how measurements can be employed to foreground values of democracy, sustainability, and solidarity over extractivist ends. For the second half, I collaborate with artistic researchers, the natural scientists of the interdisciplinary TRAILS project and local stakeholders to investigate the role of temporal dimensions in non-human political agency. The goal is to combine science and technology studies and feminist studies with artistic research to become more attentive and sensitive for non-human agencies.  

I am broadly interested in participation in mining, more-than-human geography, and decolonizing the university. One day a week, I work for local food initiatives and Extinction Rebellion Agriculture.  I have a background in (environmental) criminology.