Politics & Political Theory

The corporate effect: Making capitalist space and peasant dispossession in the Peruvian Andes

This article interrogates the apparently self-evident existence of a road called the Corredor Minero del Sur (Southern Mining Corridor) that connects multiple mega-mining projects in the Andean highlands with export markets elsewhere. It builds on Neil Smith’s theorization of “space as a means of production” to illuminate the discursive practices and legal measures that reimagine “unruly” peasant territories as an “orderly” mineral transport corridor, thereby drawing rural space into a global copper production chain. Through a contemporary history of social conflicts surrounding the Corredor, I demonstrate how corporate and State actors work together to make corporations appear as if they were independent from the social contexts in which they operate and therefore free from responsibility for the harms they cause. Following Timothy Mitchell, I call this the “corporate effect.” This effect, I argue, is essential for conjuring capitalist space like the Corredor because it conceals how peasants are dispossessed of both their lands and a political language for claim-making. To illustrate this, I highlight three processes driving the corporate effect: dissimulation, recategorization, and abstraction. Together, these practices produce extractivist arrangements of law, property, and jurisdiction to create new spaces for governance and capital circulation in the margins of the Peruvian state.

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Volume 41 Issue 2

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