CALACS 2020 Dissertation Prize Winner
CALACS 2020 Dissertation Prize Winner
ETIENNE ROY GRÉGOIRE, PH.D.
Écosystème normatif minier et communautés politiques en Colombie transitionnelle
School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa
Supervised by Professor Sylvie Paquerot
The Outstanding Dissertation Prize committee commends Dr. Roy Grégoire Ph.D. dissertation, a highly original, theoretically sophisticated, timely, and beautifully written study of the dynamics of extractivism, politics and the law in Colombia today. “Écosystème normatif minier et communautés politiques” is based on extensive research conducted in rural areas of Colombia shaped by the legacy of armed conflict, and the implementation of the Peace Accords signed between the government and the Farc-ep leftist guerrilla in 2016. The evaluating committee was particularly impressed by the richness of the theoretical notion of a “normative ecosystem” used Dr. Roy Grégoire to understand the interplay between multiple normative regimes, including transitional justice. This fascinating work has the potential to have a positive impact on current policy debates and governance.
This thesis examines the impact of granting mining titles on political dynamics in the territories affected by the Colombian armed conflict. From a theoretical point of view, it takes up the classic political philosophy interrogations about the relationship between norms and political community, i.e., the dialectical relationship between politics and law. Those questions are updated by taking into account the transformations induced by globalization: indeed, the multiplication and superimposition of different normative regimes undermines the coherence of the normative sphere and, by the same token, the assumed relationship between law, democracy and sovereignty. Based on the reflections of researchers at the Brussels School of Philosophy of Law, I propose the notion of “normative ecosystem” to analyze the relationships that are established between presumably incommensurable normative regimes, from law to the counter-insurgency strategies, from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to morality; and from contractual relations to political violence. Based on case studies conducted in two regions of the province of Antioquia, this thesis demonstrates that the granting of mining titles favors particular configurations of the normative ecosystem. In other words, the granting of mining titles induces a certain stabilization of the relations between law, CSR, contractuality and governmentality, which I call the “mining normative ecosystem”. This thesis concludes that the Colombian mining normative ecosystem is not conducive to the articulation of political communities and prevents the deliberate and rational conduct of public affairs as well as the democratic organization of the territory. On the contrary, the mining normative ecosystem favors utilitarian social relations, corruption, clientelism and political violence. This research shows that the normative “solutions” put forward to deal with conflicts in the mining sector call into question certain fundamental categories of modern political and legal thought. In Colombia, a policy of institutionalization of CSR conducted jointly by the State and mining title holders induces profound changes in the relationships between communities, companies and governments. This thesis thus clarifies some of the challenges that Colombian society must overcome, given the numerous mining titles granted over a large part of its territory, to successfully carry out the peace process initiated in 2016.
Honourable Mention: Dissertation
MIRANDA DAHLIN, PH.D.
To Wait Amongst Shadows: Violence, Forced Migration, and the Spectral Geography of the
Juárez-El Paso Borderlands
Department of Anthropology, McGill University
Supervised by Kristin Norget
Dr. Miranda Dahlin has been chosen to receive an honourable mention in this year's Outstanding Dissertation Award competition. Her dissertation “To Wait Amongst Shadows”, written under the supervision of Professor Kristin Norget, is a remarkable achievement in research and writing, and deserving of recognition amongst the excellent nominees this year. Dr. Dahlin’s dissertation presents a deeply researched and compelling analysis of Mexican asylum seekers’ experience of violence on the border with the United States.
“To Wait Amongst Shadows: Violence, Forced Migration and the Spectral Geography of the Juárez/El Paso Borderlands,” is based on a year of ethnographic fieldwork from 2015-2016 in El Paso, Texas, and discusses the experiences of Mexican asylum seekers fleeing state-cartel violence and corruption in Mexico, and their subsequent experiences of the US immigration system in El Paso. This ethnography relays the stories of five different individuals or families seeking asylum in the US, and through these stories, discusses different aspects of the state-cartel violence in Mexico and the experiences of the US asylum system. Working with affect theory, the anthropology of violence and state terror, and scholarship on narrative discourse and the image, this dissertation explores the use of affective, imagistic modes of telling stories of state-cartel violence that do not fit with the chronological, explanatory modes of storytelling required by the asylum system. It demonstrates that these imagistic modes of storytelling better illuminate the sensory experiences of the current violence (both state-cartel violence in Mexico and the violence experienced in the US asylum system), and the resonances of these experiences with other longterm violences in the border region. It unpacks some of the arguments and explores the structures that tend to criminalize Mexican asylum seekers and keep the national denial rate of Mexican asylum claims in the US hovering around 90%, despite the existence of egregious state-cartel violence.