State as resource, mediator and performer: understanding the local and global politics of gold mining in Kyrgyzstan
Central Asian Survey
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Reason for embargo
The inability of the state to maintain security and the rule of law for the purposes of foreign direct investment and industrial production is often taken as a sign of its weakness. However, such judgments say little about the actual functions of the state for global extraction industries and local political forces which demand their share of the pie. Whilst coercive state power may have decreased since Kyrgyzstan became independent, more important is the fact that the state itself has been transformed under the ruptures of, on the one hand, economic and political liberalization and, on the other, the effects of so-called ‘revolutions’ of 2005 and 2010 which led to the wholesale restructuring of national structures of clientelism. Based on ethnographic research conducted in Talas province, documentary sources and interviews with gold mining companies and state officials, the paper investigates the state’s shifting roles with respect to Kyrgyzstan’s gold mining sector. Firstly, it explores the state as a source of rents for officials who grant and rescind licences in exchange for formal and informal payments from foreign investors, often via offshore vehicles. Secondly, it considers the role of the state as mediator between foreign investors and their access to sites. Finally, it identifies the state as performer of its status as sovereign power despite its inability to prevent uprisings and actually guarantee the promised access to its territory.
Vol. 34 (1), pp. 93-109