All translations from the Spanish are by the author.
Introduction: A Mining Company
1. For an overview of the literature on mining, including social organization and re-
sistance to resource extraction, see Godoy 1985; Gedicks 1994; Ballard and Banks
2003; Bridge 2004a.
2. Scholars have documented the environmental consequences of mining in Peru
(Bury 2005), with particular attention paid to the impacts of mining opera-
tions on water resources (Bebbington and Williams 2008; Budds and Hinojosa-
3. On the emergence of conflicts over mining in Latin America, see Bebbington
2007, 2009; Kuecker 2007; Perreault 2008; Holt- Himenez 2008.
4. The word for “pollution” most frequently used in Spanish is contaminación, while
polución is used very rarely. In English, the two words are sometimes used inter-
changeably, though pollution and contamination are not necessarily the same
thing. Pollution refers to the introduction of harmful substances or products
into the environment, as in the case of toxic discharges from a factory. Contami-
nation, on the other hand, can refer to the presence of extraneous materials or
unwanted substances that would not necessarily be called “pollution” (as in the
contamination of a lab sample by a foreign substance). In Peru, however, con-
taminación encompasses the meaning of both English words, and is the word
more commonly used to refer to anthropogenic pollution of air, water, and soil.
This ambiguity and the broad range of meanings associated with the term may
contribute to its contested nature.
5. My approach is inspired by a multidisciplinary body of work that problematizes
the divide between Nature and Culture (Descola and Palsson 1996; Ingold 2000;