Learning in Social Action in Contexts of Mining Dispossession: A Critical Case Study of Roșia Montană, Romania

  • Author / Creator
    Witiw, Taylor Kermit Christopher
  • Transnational corporations promise win-win development, but extractive projects often deliver dispossession, displacement, impoverishment, environmental degradation, and disrupt social relations in rural localities. These conditions can in turn engender contestation and resistance to dispossession, including learning in social action in anti-dispossession struggles and movements. Roșia Montană, Romania, is one such site where Roșieni villagers and small land holder peasants, their organizations AM and RMCF, and trans/national solidarity campaigns/movements have waged two decades of resistance against a proposed Canadian open-pit mining project. The purpose of the proposed research was to develop an initial and exploratory understanding of knowledge production and learning in social action undertaken by these agents in Roșia Montană by addressing the following research questions: (1) what is learning in social action in a context of mining dispossession?; (2) how does learning inform social action?; and (3) how do trans/national actors augment local struggles and contribute towards learning in social action?

    Utilizing a critical research methodology and a critical case study strategy pertaining to this site of mining resistance, the research sought to develop an initial and exploratory understanding of learning in social action in Rosia Montana. Data collection to develop the case study included: 16 semi-structured interviews with 18 participants including Roşieni members of grassroots groups and activists/NGO members; observation at the case site; and a review of documents produced or used in struggle.

    Thematic analysis elucidates several aspects of learning in social action. Participants shared knowledge constructed in struggle pertaining to the anatomy of dispossession, including corporate tactics and Roşieni counter tactics. The initial Roşieni grassroots struggle was catalyzed by processes of incidental learning and resistance, which quickly spawned more intentional forms of learning and praxis. Knowledge developed through learning in social action informed: grassroots and social movement organization, future actions, and more structured and complex forms of learning—especially when augmented by growing support from a trans/national solidarity network. These findings contribute to the conceptual, theoretical, and empirical literature on rural dispossession, resistance, and learning in social action by highlighting the politics of dispossession as understood by Rosieni. Further, this research illustrates processes of learning in social action at the nexus of grassroots and trans/national solidarity and contributes towards an understanding of how diverse forms of learning in social action are integral to processes of resistance and contestation addressing capitalist mining dispossession.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Education
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.