Incomplete : risk topographies and conflict landscapes in Turkey in the age of the new gold rush

Placeholder Show Content


The world has witnessed an unprecedented global proliferation of mining activities over the past four decades. In line with the World Bank's structural adjustment programs, by the mid-1980s, more than 90 countries changed their mining codes within a few years to accommodate private and foreign mining activities. Many call this era the extractive moment. Gold mining constitutes the bulk of this extractive moment, attracting close to half of all the new mining investment during this era. This global expansion of gold mining generated a proliferation of socio-environmental movements by indigenous and farming communities living in the mined areas against the threats of gold mining. This dissertation follows one fundamental question: How can we theorize the politics of this juncture in the mineral age as consisting of incomplete processes shaped by risk topographies? In addressing this question, this dissertation explores the making of Turkey's first gold mine in Bergama, a farming town in Western Turkey, by focusing on the conflict that lasted for more than a decade from 1990 onward between farming communities, the gold mining company Eurogold, and state authorities centered on the technopolitics of risk. Despite rapidly growing risk scholarship and anthropology's ever-increasing interest in environmental justice and mining, the entanglement of risk and mining is largely understudied. The scrutiny of this entanglement is particularly needed considering the increased rate at which toxic mining waste dams fail. How is it that, despite all the environmental scrutiny, heightened safety measures, and a much more mature and potent risk analysis discipline, there is an alarming rate of increase in mine tailings dam failures, both in frequency and in intensity? This dissertation offers a three-layered argument: 1) gold is not discovered but assembled. In contrast to popular imagery, gold mining is less about "extraction" and more akin to chemical manufacturing. The peculiar assembly of gold, in turn, engenders socio-environmental threats and uncertainties, bringing risk to the fore of the debates; 2) farming communities are not simply risk-averse; instead, they are expert risk managers. This expertise situates them in the best position to assess the risks of gold mining. As a result, farming communities' expertise enables them to forge successful alliances with scientists in their struggle against the gold mine; 3) risk is not an objective state or condition but a performative enactment by what I call the risk dispositif. However, the performative aspect of the risk dispositif has its limits stemming from what I call its necessary incompleteness. The necessary incompleteness, in turn, makes risk dispositif counterperformative, producing a world that is ultimately not less but more risky. When intersected through the conflict, these three layers assemble a set of diverse precarities fueled by multilayered incompleteness that mark the current global extractive moment.


Type of resource text
Form electronic resource; remote; computer; online resource
Extent 1 online resource.
Place California
Place [Stanford, California]
Publisher [Stanford University]
Copyright date 2021; ©2021
Publication date 2021; 2021
Issuance monographic
Language English


Author Dinc, Tarik Nejat
Degree supervisor Ferguson, James, 1959-
Degree supervisor Gupta, Akhil, 1959-
Thesis advisor Ferguson, James, 1959-
Thesis advisor Gupta, Akhil, 1959-
Thesis advisor Bauer, Andrew M
Degree committee member Bauer, Andrew M
Associated with Stanford University, Department of Anthropology


Genre Theses
Genre Text

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Tarik Nejat Dinc̲.
Note Submitted to the Department of Anthropology.
Thesis Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2021.

Access conditions

© 2021 by Tarik Nejat Dinc
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).

Also listed in

Loading usage metrics...