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Translation Alignment: Actor‐Network Theory, Resistance, and the Power Dynamics of Alliance in New Caledonia

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Abstract:  This study of resistance to multinational mining in New Caledonia expands actor‐network theory's concept of translation by exploring ways that power dynamics affect alliances and the translations that both support and challenge them. Examining relationships among an indigenous protest group, environmentalist grassroots organizations, a human rights lawyer, the mining company, and the provincial government, I argue that power often requires alliances, mediated by compatible translations. However, if alliances are to succeed, at least temporarily, these translations must be made compatible through a process of translation alignment. Ironically, this alignment inevitably alters at least one of the translations, diminishing the power of the actor‐network that articulated it to achieve its original goals. This paper's findings also enhance radical geographical understandings of capitalism's infrastructure, as uneven development increasingly relies upon—yet finds it increasingly difficult to achieve—the alignment of local communities’ translations with those of the agents of industry.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ, USA;

Publication date: June 1, 2012


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