Greg Hollin (University of Leeds): ‘Regimes of violent-care: Democracy, climate change, and rare earth mining in Greenland’

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While STS has been slow to problematize care (Martin et al. 2015), such narratives do exist in other disciplines and in relation to topics as diverse as healthcare (Murphy 2015), laboratory practice (Giraud & Hollin forthcoming; Johnson 2015), and conservation work (Van Dooren 2014). What this research consistently notes is that foregrounding alternative objects, spatialities, and temporalities of care bring different questions, politics, and problems into relief. Drawing on detailed ethnographic work, in this article we examine these issues which intersect in a particularly striking case study: rare earth mining (REM) in Greenland. REM is of relevance to various objects; the citizens of Greenland (REM holds the possibility of new jobs and income at a time when the Greenlandic population must become self-sustaining following subsidy-withdrawal from Denmark), the mountains and lakes which threaten to be destroyed, and parts of the global populace who are threatened (both now and in the future) by the consequences of global warming. In terms of temporalities, REM is not only of present concern but is also intimately bound with the past (REM has been made possible in Greenland because significant recession of ice shelves caused by global warming, means that new land has recently become available for mining) and the future (REM is crucial for green technologies. Finally, and as should be evident, scale (local and global) is also important. What care looks like is radically altered depending on which of these objects, temporalities, and spatialites are foregrounded. This case vividly shows that all options are non-innocent and that all pathways entail ‘regimes of violent care’. 

 

 

 

 

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