Extractive Knowledge Production

Educating for Extraction in an Age of Climate Change: Canadian Universities and the Making of Extractive Futures

Samantha Spady

University of Alberta

Resisting epistemic extractivism and cultivating new pedagogies

Alexis Shotwell

Carleton University

Extraction and the Social Scientist

Amber Murrey and Nicholas A. Jackson

University of Oxford/Coventry University

Asymmetric realities: Can PAR assist mining-affected communities?

Charles Roche

Murdoch University

Australian public logics for the inclusion of coal technologies into clean energy research.

Mallory James

University of Chicago

Click here to watch Mallory's presentation.

Comments 11

  1. Welcome everyone to this first panel of the conference. What an excellent collection of talks. Thanks so much to all of you. To use some of the language of the presentations – in all of these papers, I felt a deep care and respect for those with whom you are variously engaged in research, a reflexive critique of current knowledge production norms in the social sciences, and a desire to do things differently.

    What struck me most about the presentations was the way they speak to each other. I found myself thinking about (and subjecting my partner and friends to retellings of!) all the papers and the ways they connect. A starting point for thinking through these connections for me was Alexis’ discussions of what a mode of pedagogy that is not based on extraction might look like. This must entail going ‘beyond reconciliation’ (to think through the shortcomings of the university reconciliation focus that Samatha critiques so well), and beyond “racialised local whitewashing” (to borrow Amber and Nicholas’ phrase). I was struck by Charles’ discussion of “tok story/ tok place” and the respect and boundaries in your story of the group discussion in which the community researchers decided what to share with the research team. It seemed to me as perhaps an example of the kind of pedagogy Alexis is describing.

    I’d love to hear from people (panelists themselves and others who are tuning in). Please join in the discussion!

  2. Many thanks for your comments, Alice. I agree, these panel presentations do speak to each other in important ways about extraction and appropriation of knowledge and materials by relationally ambiguous settlers and colonists, indigenous populations, and leaders of neoliberalised academies endowed with authority (by private as much as public elite) to produce and disseminate knowledge. Thus, not only are gold, copper, oil and much else subject to extraction, but as importantly notions about who “knows,” who “doesn’t know” and who is entitled to resultant gate-kept knowledge “products.” Who gets to determine existence in or displacement from a space, and on what moral basis? I look forward to continued discussion of these important issues, and hope they can plant seeds of mutual conscientization, agency, accountability and real change.

    1. Thanks Nick. Several speakers here at the conference work closely with industry, constantly negotiating the space to critique while maintaining relationships with the sector. I’m interested to hear your views on whether/ how it is possible for social scientists to work with mining companies (and development agencies) in a way that pushes back against and goes beyond the racialised whitewashing you describe.

      1. Alice, I think addressing this central issue requires a careful accounting of the terms of the relationships, and especially the frameworks of highly unequal neocolonial corporate power that are often hidden in discussions of cultural ambiguity and questions of liberal agency and consent. Kirsch’s work (e.g. “Anthropology and Advocacy,” “Mining Capitalism”) offers important insights in this vein. I look forward to hearing how others who work closely with industry navigate these issues, whether agreeing or disagreeing with our notion of racialized localwashing or our particular invocation of agnotology (production of ignorance and doubt). In what ways do and should we as scholars promote, contest, ventriloquize, magnify and interrogate our interlocutors in all locations? I think of Guyer’s wrestling with this in the context of the Chad-Cameroon pipeline (“Blueprints, Judgment, and Perseverance in a Corporate Context”).

    1. Hello, I am Felipe Corral from Colombia (now at TU Berlin in Germany). This research is very interesting!! I am thrilled to find others that are using PAR to support and learn together with communities affected by extractivisms. Concerning PAR as a research approach/methodology, what have been the key bases for your research? Do you have any literature recommendations for someone beginning his research?

      So far, my interest is to explore whether PAR can be a helpful approach to reduce the power asymmetries between (coal mining) companies and local communities in Colombia, as the basis of a just and timely transition beyond extractivism. I would be very happy to be able to talk about your experience in PNG.

      Best regards from Germany!

      1. Hi Felipe. I started my PAR journey with a quest for a more appropriate research methodology during my confirmation and ethics processes, wanting to talk and listen to Communities rather than ask pre-prepared questions. I started out with yarning which is an Australian Indigenous method and then tok stori which is used in the Pacific.

        PAR can help us do research better, and ours did have a positive emancipatory effect, but its a bit much to ask PAR to overcome the asymmetries of power, knowledge, finances, influence… from an emboldened extractive industry that dominates many resource-dependent countries.

        For tok stori – Sanga, K., Reynolds, M., Paulsen, I., Spratt, R., & Maneipuri, J. (2018). A tok stori about tok stori: Melanesian relationality in action as research, leadership and scholarship. Global Comparative Education, 3.

        For Yarning – Briggs, L., Finlay, S., Hall, R., Adams, K., Briggs, L., Andy, S., . . . Fletcher, G. (2011). Engaging the practice of Indigenous yarning in action research. ALAR, 17(2), 8

        For transformative PhD research – Dedotsi, S., & Panić, G. (2020). Resisting within the neoliberalising academy: Reflections on doing transformative doctoral research. Emotion, Space and Society, 35. doi:10.1016/j.emospa.2020.100657

        I explore it a little in my 2019 and in two forthcoming articles. Happy to talk.

  3. Mallory. Interesting take on CCS, which seems to operate in an alternate universe, where political doublespeak is able to legitimise the conceptualisation of CCS which as you say only applies to a fraction of one pollutant at existing sites. But is this misleading description of CCS worthy of being regarded as an epistemology, or just a triumph of spin?

  4. What an exciting collection of videos.

    Alexis Shotwell, I look forward to connecting more with you on these issues of extractive knowledge and reading more about your work on ‘epistemic extractivism’. I am intrigued by your work and the extension of extractivism beyond the material extraction of crude/raw materials into not only knowledge-making but pedagogy. I wonder if this centrality of colonial settler ontologies is also a capitalist extractivist prerogative (where is the line? is there a line?). I have written about decolonial knowing ‘beyond the language of the mouth’ and ‘disobedient pedagogies’ and I see a number of important solidarities in our work.

    1. I’m appreciating the extension of epistemic extraction to others fields. My focus is more explicit on resource extraction, where epistemic extraction is either a prerequisite of, or inextricably interwoven with the actual process of extraction. The communities I was participant action researching with in PNG quickly understood the concepts of imperialism and epistemicide – having lived with them as consequences of colonialism and readily seeing them as impacts from extraction. I think it is often the epistemic bias/blindness/arrogance rather than the act of physical extraction that drives many of the impacts of extraction.

  5. Hi all, I’m Roy Cobby, PhD Candidate at King’s College London. I’ll be presenting at Knowledge production and data extraction stream Panel 2: Technology and infrastructure.

    Sam, it is very interesting to see clearly those key connections between academia, internationalisation and extractivism. Diversity and Inclusion
    departments across universities should be aware of these relationships and their incompatibility with their purported goals.

    Alexis, many thanks for your presentation about ways of engaging in non-extractivist epistemic activities. I am very interested in
    trying to understand approaches to digitalisation that are inclusive.

    Amber and Nicholas, thank you for that fascinating historical journey across the entanglements of social science, colonialism and extractivism. We all need to be aware of these issues and the importance of responsible research.

    Charles, I was not aware of the concept of extractive dispossession. It will really help me frame my research around digital agriculture.

    Mallory, if you haven’t visited it yet, on the panel about coal they are having debates which are related to the issues you discussed in your presentation.

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